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‘Iran, China mull oil refinery in Kazakhstan’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
An oil refinery in Kazakh city of Atyrau. Kazakh officials say Iran and China are interested in building a new refinery in Mangistau.

Iran and China are interested in Kazakhstan’s plans to construct an oil refinery in the Central Asian country’s west, its media reports say. 

The facility is the fourth refinery which Kazakhstan plans to build in Mangistau Oblast, its deputy governor Rakymbek Amirzhanov said, adding representatives from Iran and China had indicated their interest in the plan.

Iran reportedly plans to swap the refined oil with crude from its southern fields. The country would ship the processed fuel through the Caspian Sea for use in its northern provinces and deliver the same amount of crude oil to Kazakhstan in the Persian Gulf, according to Amirzhanov.   

There was no immediate reaction to the report from Iranian energy officials.

Neka in northern Iran has an import capacity for crude swaps with the Caspian states of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Russia.

The government of ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suspended Caspian oil swaps of between 70,000 and 100,000 barrels per day in June 2010 after 13 years amid an oil glut in the aftermath of intensified sanctions.

Iran says it has received new requests from its northern neighbors to revive the scheme and energy officials have reacted positively to the proposals.

In August, Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh said Iran was ready to carry out swap deliveries of Azerbaijan’s oil to the Persian Gulf.

The collapse of the Soviet Union has left Iran to position itself as a major transit route for the Caspian energy. However, the idea of building pipelines across Iran has faced US opposition. 

Kazakhstan currently uses Iran’s transit railway linking the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf to ferry about 11 million metric tons of wheat per year.  

The Central Asian nation is interested in investment in Iran’s Shahid Rajaee Port in order to facilitate transit of its goods to world markets. Kazakhstan is currently linked to China by rail and is expanding its transit network to ramp up freight to Europe.

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