The Forum for Partners in Iran's Marketplace

January 2018, No. 86


For the First Time in History of Oil Industry

Shahdaei Was Appointed First Deputy Oil Minister

It was the first time that a woman was appointed to the board of directors of one of the four main subsidiaries of the Petroleum Ministry.

For the first time in the history of the oil industry, a woman was appointed first deputy minister. The appointment of a woman at such a level of management at the Ministry of Petroleum is unprecedented and can be considered a step forward for more women to participate in the economic arenas. It is hoped that this will facilitate the path for other powerful women in the oil industry, whose number is certainly not few.

Born in Tehran on February 14, 1962, Marzieh Shahdaei is a graduate of chemical engineering from Sharif University of Technology and holds an MBA from the University of Calgary, Canada. As a woman for the first time in 2016, she was appointed deputy petroleum minister and CEO of the National Iranian Petrochemical Company.

It was in June when she accompanied the President in a tour of Orumiyeh, West Azarbaijan and her photo beside the President surrounded by a group of men was taken as she was breaking the ground for construction of a refinery to boost the economy of the province. The photo received extensive media coverage.

The appointment of a woman at such a high level was unprecedented at the Petroleum Ministry. It took Shahdaei 27 years to reach the high level position thanks to her specialization as a manager in petrochemical sector.

It was the first time that a woman was appointed to the board of directors of one of the four main subsidiaries of the Petroleum Ministry. The appointment prompted Shahdaei to make the following comment in an interview with an oil-related news website affiliated with the ministry: “Although we have stepped into a modern society, but men considered the industry their own monopoly. Given the prevailing culture in the society and the work environment, I’ve always worked harder to achieve my goals, and worked more than my male counterparts.”

In 1979, she completed high school studies in mathematics-physics and was admitted to the Sharif University of Technology. In the same year, with the onset of the Cultural Revolution and following the closure of universities, she continued her higher education despite having a child. She gave birth to a second child as she was still studying. In 1987, she entered the National Iranian Petrochemical Company to complete the training and graduation project. After graduation due to her interest and encouraged by her managers, she started cooperation with the NIPC in Planning and Coordination Department.
Shahdaei, for the first time in Iran, raised the idea of revision in concept engineering and said: “At the time of the sanctions, when foreign consultant engineers were reluctant to cooperate with Iranian companies, due to the layout of the units, we revised the concept engineering of Phase II of Assaluyeh with the help of Iranian consultant engineers and prepared a review of its basic engineering.”

She believes that privatization of the petrochemical industry is a mistake and says: “Crude sale has the least profit, and we need additional revenues from oil and gas supplementary industries to create added value and national economic growth.”

In the departments under the management of Shahdaei, according to an energy journal, there are 60 incomplete projects with physical progress from 1 to 98 percent that have been prioritized for implementation.
In the roadmap for the development of the petrochemical industry, 36 new projects have been formulated in Chabahar, Jask, Qeshm and Parsian regions so that with their commissioning 60 million tons will be added to Iran’s petrochemical capacity. Of course, when Bijan Namdar Zangeneh appointed Shahdaei deputy minister and NIPC CEO in 2016, he urged her to benefit from the new openings provided by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and accomplish the goals projected for the petrochemical industry by promoting the technology, attracting foreign investment, accessing markets and increasing exports under the Sixth Development Plan.


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  January 2018
No. 86