TBY talks to Morteza Azizi, Managing Director & Member of the Board of Parsian Oil & Gas Development Group Company (POGDC), on diversifying its products, integrating refinery and petrochemical production, and building new downstream production facilities.

Morteza Azizi
Morteza Azizi holds a master’s in strategic management and a bachelor’s in industrial engineering. He has served as Managing Director and member of the board at Parsian Oil and Gas Development Group Company (POGDC) since 2007. Prior to establishing POGDC, he founded Petrochemical Investment Company and National Development Investment Group. He has also served as CEO of several financial and petrochemical companies such as Iran Carbon and Sepahan Oil Company, and as a member of the board of Sarmayeh Bank, EN Bank, and Karafarin Bank. Azizi was awarded the national prize for being a distinct exporter in the oil and gas sector three times.

How has the company developed in recent years?

POGDC is a young company; we were founded less than 10 years ago. Yet, today it is one of the largest players in Iran in the oil, gas, and petrochemical sector. We are now the largest petrochemical refinery company in the country. In the IMI 100, a ranking of all Iranian companies composed by IDRO, we have been among the top 10 for five years running. With our three urea plants, we are the number-one fertilizer company in the Middle East and have the largest methanol factory in the world. Our growth is encouraging, and we seek to be in the top 20 petrochemicals worldwide.

How do you assess the scope of your activities? Will you implement new diversification or integration strategies in the coming years?

From the beginning, we have been taking raw materials from the oil and gas industry to produce petrochemical products and sell them on the free market. Today, we are changing this through three strategies. First, we are diversifying our products with cutting-edge technology, such as with the Kian project. Second, we are looking at the integration of refinery and petrochemical production, for instance in Tabriz, where we have already signed an agreement to integrate the two. Third, we signed agreements with the number-one licensor in the world to build new downstream production facilities here rather than sell raw materials to other countries. We should limit the export of our raw materials and focus instead on exporting finished products.

Have you been able to engage in international partnerships since the lifting of sanctions?

After the JCPOA we signed many agreements with well-known companies. We signed two deals with ENI to purchase licensing and produce products like lubricants under its brand. We also signed a front-end engineering design deal for the Kian Petrochemical project with the Linde Group from Germany. It took one year to complete these basic engineering activities, and we just signed a USD1.5-billion deal with a European company for the final stage of this cornerstone project. This was signed with our corporate guarantee—not a government guarantee. We work only with the top companies in the world and have great relations with the largest European and Japanese players in oil, gas, and petrochemicals.

How will POGDC capitalize on new business opportunities in the post-sanctions era?

Iran is the safest country in the Middle East. All the neighboring countries face security problems. When a country is safe, it can think about investment. We are steadily growing because we have the best resources in the world. We have young and skilled people, which further drives our growth. POGDC is growing every day, and with the joint ventures with foreign companies we closed, we have the best technology in the petrochemical industry.

What is your vision with regard to the development of PODGC's international footprint?

We are considering diverting our production downstream and selling worldwide. At the moment, we sell our products to over 50 countries without any problems. We produce more than 6 million tons of fertilizer and are the largest urea producer in the world. Our production exceeds Iran's consumption; thus, it is only logical to sell internationally.

What is your outlook for the coming year?

At the moment, we are pleased with our situation. We aim to steadily continue on our growth path, but are somewhat confined by the skepticism of foreign companies that work with Iran. At the moment, we are the only company whose corporate guarantee is accepted by foreign financers. We have a great reputation in many countries and are not afraid of competition, only sanctions.