TOKYO -- Chiyoda, Toyo Engineering and other leading Japanese plant builders are launching feasibility studies to clinch orders in resource-rich Iran, hoping to catch up with European and Chinese competitors already making inroads there.
Japanese contractors and automakers closed down or greatly cut back their business in Iran after the international community imposed sanctions for the country's nuclear program. But now that the embargoes have been lifted, investments and exports to the country are expected to pick up again. Kansai Paint has already announced plans to return to Iran.
Chiyoda recently launched a feasibility study for upgrading an oil refinery near the southern city of Bandar Abbas, assessing the necessary work and profitability. The Iranian side is considering installing reformer units, which are used to produce high-octane gasoline and other oil-based products, at the facility.
Receiving a contract for a basic design would boost the company's chances of winning a turnkey contract, including for construction slated to begin in 2018. Chiyoda plans to station employees in Tehran by the end of fiscal 2016 to hunt for new business opportunities.
Toyo Engineering is aiding the Iranian government in drafting basic plans for a petrochemical plant, and will likely launch a feasibility study for the project within the next three months. Competitor JGC will station workers in Tehran as early as this spring, for the first time in six years.
Manufacturers of power plant components are also rushing back to Iran. Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems has already sent a team there to select a local construction partner. It is looking for businesses with the ability to install and maintain conventional power plant components.