Iran resumed partial operations Saturday at its war-battered Abadan oil refinery after an eight-year shutdown during the war with Iraq, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
Since the Aug. 20 cease-fire, 7,000 technicians and specialists have worked round-the-clock to rebuild the 3,200-acre complex, IRNA said.Abadan, only a few miles from the Iraqi border and within sight of Iraqi artillery throughout the war, was knocked out early in the conflict that began in September 1980.
It was shelled almost daily, and 158 refinery personnel were killed in the fighting. The cost of the damage and lost production was estimated at more than $9 billion.
President Ali Khamenei inaugurated the newly built Abadan plant in southwest Khuzestan province, IRNA said in a dispatch monitored in Nicosia.
He told the technicians who rebuilt a 20-megawatt power plant, distillation towers, storage tanks and other facilities from the twisted ruins: "You . . . have proved that the Iranian nation, by relying on itself, can emerge as a wonderful power."
The 70-year-old refinery will start with a daily production capacity of 130,000 barrels a day, one-fifth of its pre-war capacity, IRNA said.
But Oil Minister Gholamreza Aqa-zadeh, who accompanied Khamenei, was quoted as saying production will be boosted over the next two to three years to 360,000 barrels daily.
The reopening of the Abadan complex came amid a major effort by the Iranians to rebuild their battered oil industry and their refineries, which were heavily bombed by Iraq's powerful air force throughout the war.
Abadan's output will boost Iran's refinery capacity to an estimated 850,000 barrels a day. Six other refineries have been repaired since the cease-fire.
Oil industry experts consider the speed with which the Iranians have restored their oil installations since the cease-fire to be a major development.
Ian Seymour, editor of the respected Nicosia-based Middle East Economic Survey who visited Iranian oil installations a few weeks ago, noted that the reconstruction was "a considerable achievement."
Iran's crude oil exports are the mainstay of its economy and account for some 90 percent of its foreign currency earnings.