North Oil Terminal is where oil tankers of all Caspian Sea littoral states have to cross in order to reach the Persian Gulf waters.

This terminal is located 20 kilometers north of the city of Neka and close to a power plant on a piece of land measuring 20,000 ha in area. Before Iran’s oil swap project was halted, crude oil from the Caspian Sea littoral states – Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan – was carried in oil tankers to this terminal before being offloaded by hydraulic arms and be stored in tankers.

Iran’s oil swap stopped in 2012, but Iran’s petroleum minister Bijan Zangeneh recently said he is seriously in talks for the resumption of these operations.

1 Month Left to Swap

Iran is seeking to resume swap operations in North Terminal. According to Pirouz Mousavi, CEO of Iran Oil Terminals Company (IOTC), these operations will start in one month. 

“Throughout its talks with foreign companies, the Ministry of Petroleum is determined to remove impediments and remedy shortcomings that existed in the swap operations in the past. What is expected to be done soon is crude oil swap,” he told a press conference. 

Noting that the oil imported from the Caspian states is used for feeding refineries in Tehran and Tabriz, he added: “During the period of halt to swap operations we tried our best to upgrade our equipment. In a month or so, crude oil swap will resume.”

Mousavi said delegates from Kazakhstan and Russia are expected to travel to Behshahr in northern Iran to visit Neka oil terminal.

“We will start swap operations with the volume of 50,000 to 100,000 b/d until we reach the pre-determined capacity,” he said.

Hamid-Reza Shahdoust, director of Neka oil terminal, said the terminal started work in 2003. 

“It has currently three operating jetties. We have nine tanks of the same size, six of which are used for storage and three others for blending,” he said.

Shahdoust said the difference between Neka and Kharg is that in the latter, oil is delivered while in the former oil is received before being passed on to the Iranian Oil Pipelines and Telecommunication Company (IOPTC).

A cutting edge technology used in this terminal pertains to its offloading arms which are connected to oil tankers. This technology is undoubtedly one of the best in the world. This system which is very equipped and technically modern is best known as FMC offloading arm.

At North Terminal, arrangements have also been made for older oil tankers. There are also basins for offloading oil. These basins could not be connected to the arms and the offloading process is done through hoses.


Neka Ready to Boost Capacity

Four years have passed since oil cargoes were last delivered to this terminal. But Shahdoust believes that its equipment is fully ready for operation.

“Currently we have three jetties which handle offloading of oil. The three jetties are able to offload oil at the same time. During years swap operations were on hold, the equipment used in the jetties was rebuilt from A to Z and there is currently no problem in this regard,” he said. 

He added that oil tankers navigating in the Caspian Sea have the capacity of up to 75,000 tons with their draft varying between 4 and 4.5 meters.

Neka oil terminal’s current capacity stands at 120,000 b/d, which is planned to increase in coming years.

“We will start with such a force when we resume swap operations,” said Shahdoust.

He added that the capacity of oil swap operations had been planned to increase from 120,000 b/d to 500,000 b/d and finally 1 mb/d and 1.5 mb/d. 

He said that National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) had also planned to establish 14 more jetties.

Regarding the technical specifications of the terminal, Shahdoust said the basin has a wave-breaker wall whose western side is 2,400 meters and whose eastern wall is 1,720 meters offshore. 

It is the largest stone structure in northern Iran with an area of 300 ha. The first phase of the project is now complete at 90% and the rest will continue as soon as swap operations resume.

Shahdoust also said that the current three jetties have the capacity to offload 120,000 b/d of crude oil. 

“Of course, in certain cases we have offloaded up to 250,000 b/d. Furthermore, the pipeline connected to this terminal has the capacity to transfer 500,000 b/d. This oil is transferred to Tehran refinery,” he said.

Pollution-Free Terminal

North Oil Terminal is equipped with sophisticated facilities. It would be no surprise to see that there is no pollution. North Oil Terminal is fitted with such systems as WWT which are used for the treatment of water and wastewater. In case any problem occurs in the storage tank, leading to the flow of oil and water in the terminal this system will soon gather oil waters.

This terminal is a fully green terminal in mining and industry sector in Mazandaran Province. The existing system is able to separate water and oil and direct water towards sea and drive oil into the storage tank.

The storage tanks in this terminal automatically extinguish fire. In other words in case any fire rips into any storage tank, the blaze is automatically extinguished before manpower arrives. 

Another advantage with this terminal is its laboratory which has been awarded ISO 17025 certificate. Therefore, this laboratory does not need any other certification. 

Except for North Oil Terminal, Research Institute of Petroleum Industry (RIPI) and the Kharg area of IOTC, no other Iranian institute has so far obtained this certificate which helps analyze the entire oil flowing into the terminal. 

All kinds of quantitative and qualitative tests like water test and mercaptan test are carried out in this laboratory. 

Courtesy of Iran Petroleum

By Shiva Saeedi