Tombi Power Generation Plant, Masjed Soleyman, is one of the first thermal power generation plants in Iran and the Middle East, which was launched in September 1908, shortly after Well No. 3 was spudded in Masjed Soleyman.
A historical and invaluable facility that is still operational in electricity distribution, while being considered as one of the pilot museum sites in the Masjed Soleyman Petroleum Museum scheme.
The plant is located 10 kilometers southeast of Masjed Soleyman, next to an eponymous river; the closest to the salt water river and the Tombi cooling devices that were previously needed for the plant.
During the one hundred and twelve-year history of this valuable industrial heritage, numerous technical and news reports have been published about it. For example, in the Journal of Petroleum Industry, Volume 10, Issue No. 7, released in November 1971, a report of this power plant was published.
Among the important events chronicles in the report is the occurrence of an explosion in the plant back in 1917 which unfortunately killed one person and injured another. No other unfortunate incidents have been mentioned in the articles we have reviewed about the Tombi power plant so far!
It is interesting to know that oil pump houses and power plants have been closely interrelated. In the same report, we read: "The history of Masjed Soleyman electricity is directly related to eruption of oil from the first well. In 1911, 3 years after the first barrel of oil was pumped from Well No. 1 of Masjed Soleyman, oil flow started to the Abadan oil refinery through a pump house in Tombi. Given its oil and gas riches, Masjed Soleyman has always been considered and it rapidly grew after the discovery of oil. The first station for pumping crude oil from Masjed Soleyman to Abadan was built in 1909 and similar stations started operating in Malasani, Kut Abdullah and Darkhovin, respectively. Darkhovin station is being operated with a power generator to meet its internal needs.”
The report of the Journal of Petroleum Industry regarding the accident that took place in Tombi Power Plant states: "The devices that have been installed recently (i.e. around 1971) are located next to the Tombi River, which is an offshoot of Karoun River. (Actually this part of the report is misleading as Tombi River is not an offshoot of Karoun River, rather, it originates from Mount Asmari and eventually flows into Karoun.) In 1917, due to the proximity of crude oil pumps and pipelines to the boiler, a huge explosion occurred in the plant. It resulted in the death of a person and injury of several others. As a result of the incident, it was decided to move the oil pump house from the original location to the other side of the river."
Also, according to this illustrated report, between 1918 and 1922, four new steam turbines were installed to drive oil pumps, each with a capacity of over two million gallons per day. In the following years, the capacity of the power plant was expanded and four power generation turbines were installed with a total capacity of 9,000 kW.
The report further underlined installation of gas turbines in the Tombi power plant: "Due to the increase in electricity consumption, in 1950, installation of two gas turbines began, with a production capacity of 4,000 kWh each. The turbines were put into operation later in 1954. Also, in 1969, due to increasing consumption of the power grid of Khuzestan Water and Electricity Organization, two other steam turbines of the plant were shut down and only two gas turbines with a capacity of 8,000 kilowatts remain operational, and a capacity of 7,500 kilowatts of electricity purchased from the Khuzestan Water and Electricity Organization will meet the plant's shortage."
From the report of "Oil Industry Letter," we realize that Masjed Soleyman had faced a drop in oil production since 1968. "Also, due to the reduction of crude oil supply from Masjed Soleyman, in 1968, four steam turbines used for oil pumps were shut down, and currently only three gas pumps (Wilson Snyder) have been installed on the site of the power plant to pump crude oil from the Bi Biyan distillation plant to the distribution section of the National Iranian Oil Company in Ahvaz."
The report of the Journal of Petroleum Industry concludes: "Currently, there are two electrical systems operating in the Tombi power plant, one by the company's gas turbines and the other purchased from the Khuzestan Water and Electricity Organization. Both systems are connected by high-voltage lines of 11 kV to different parts of Masjed Soleyman for consumption in plants, offices, residences of the employees as well as for water pumps in Godar Lander."
Tombi Power Plant was operational for many years after the report of the Petroleum Industry Journal, and to this day, it still does electricity distribution and is a tourist site in the Petroleum Museum Project.