Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Repair of Oil Refinery Key in Iran's Reconstruction

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Repair of Oil Refinery Key in Iran's Reconstruction

Article excerpt

ABADAN, Iran - An army of technicians working around the clock is repairing what was once the world's largest oil refinery, heavily damaged in the war with Iraq and now playing a key role in Iran's reconstruction.

Collapsed oil-storage tanks crumpled into rusting shapes, miles of twisted pipes, wrecked workshops, and refining equipment peppered with shrapnel holes can be seen everywhere in the 6-square-mile Abadan complex near the Persian Gulf.

``The refinery was set on fire and burned for days at the start of the war when it was shelled by the Iraqis from across the river and raided repeatedly by their planes,'' said Farzad Oveisi, Abadan's plant director.

Oveisi boasted the refinery was partially reopened in April after a crash five-month repair program, with no foreign help. It is operating at about 40 percent capacity with 130,000 barrels produced a day, earning $12 million a month.

About 3,000 people work at the complex that once employed 12,000. Workers are laying more than 370 miles of new pipeline and have repaired 45 storage tanks.

``We don't need any foreign assistance. We have all the expertise necessary and our only need from abroad is specialized equipment,'' he told foreign correspondents.

Nonetheless, Tehran hotels are full of technical teams from Europe and Asia working on reconstruction projects worth billions of dollars.

President Hashemi Rafsanjani has ruled out direct U.S. involvement, but some West European companies with teams working on petrochemical and engineering projects are subsidiaries of specialist American firms.

Before the war broke out in September 1980, Abadan was the biggest refinery in the world with a capacity of 630,000 barrels a day.

It was knocked out in the early days of the fighting, when the Iraqis besieged the city. …

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