15 November 2006 08:41 [Source: ICIS news]
By Florence Tan
TEHRAN (ICIS news)--While the industry welcomed the appointment of veteran Gholamhossein Nejabat as the managing director at National Petrochemical Co (NPC), the mood from within has been apprehensive.
Reflecting the mixed atmosphere, attempts to interview some senior company officials at the Iran Plast 2006 last week were rejected for various reasons.
Uncertain as to whether or not they will retain their positions, some officials were tight lipped to avoid any cause for removal, sources close to the company said, adding that it was a lesson learnt from Asghar Ebrahimi Asl, the former managing director.
Nejabat said there would be some management changes, but didn’t elaborate further.
Sources said changes could include Hossein-Ali Zahmatkesh, currently managing director of Pidmco, taking over the planning and development portfolio from MH Peyvandi, who may move to head the PCC office in London. Mobin Petrochemical’s managing director Jalil Ebrahim Pour could move to head Pidmco, they added.
During his nine-month term, Ebrahimi Asl, who replaced veteran Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, brought in new staff and reshuffled some 20 senior positions within NPC and its sales arm, International Petrochemical Commercial Co (IPCC).
"He [Ebrahimi Asl] fired so many managing directors claiming wrongdoings. For example, Ehtiati was replaced because it was claimed that he was doing something wrong," one of the sources said.
ME Mohammadi replaced Mohammad Ehtiati, the former managing director at IPCC. Sources said Ehtiati currently heads Petrochemical Industries Investment Co (PIIC).
Besides replacing staff, Ebrahimi Asl also cancelled initial studies and put some projects on hold, they said, adding that relations with foreign contractors were strained.
"[He] didn’t want to take risk and make decisions as he was not sure if the investments will bring in money," the first source said, adding that "Nematzadeh was more decisive, things were moving and he’ll accept responsibility".
Ebrahimi Asl told the local media after the opening ceremony of Iran Plast 2006 that he was replaced because of Marun Petrochemical and NPC’s losses from subsidies.
Marun’s new 1.1m tonnes/year cracker failed to start up earlier this year after a fire damaged its furnaces, and this was followed by another accident, sources close to the project said.
The cracker at Bandar Imam has yet to start up as well, with the company still waiting for a piece of new equipment, they said, noting that its downstream units were operating using ethylene from other subsidiaries. Nobody could say when the cracker will restart.
With Ebrahimi Asl out of the picture, the industry has pinned high hopes on Nejabat, who made a dramatic comeback after being removed as the managing director of NPC affiliate Petrochemical Industries Development Management Co (Pidmco).
For a start, they are optimistic that he will make better decisions with his more than 30 years of experience in petrochemicals.
"This one should be all right. He’s familiar with the staff and the company. He knows everything and with that he can make the right decisions," said an NPC source.
Despite having left NPC, Nematzadeh is still active in the industry. As the managing director of National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC), he has launched a series of expansions and new refinery projects aimed at solving gasoline shortage in Iran.
Ebrahimi Asl, on the other hand, has been waiting for a new assignment.
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