Iran has made a major oil and gas find at two sites in the south of the country, oil ministry official Mahmoud Mohades was quoted by state television as saying on Sunday. He said the Zireh gas site near Kangan in southern Iran held estimated reserves of 23 billion cubic metres (805 billion cubic feet).
The Changuleh oil site, also in the south of the country, was expected to contain more than one billion barrels, said Mohades, who did not give further details.
It is the second major energy discovery in a week announced by the Islamic republic, which last Sunday said it had found a large gas field in the south with estimated reserves worth $4.7 billion. In April, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar-Zangeneh announced another important find in the same region, with reserves estimated at 400 billion cubic metres (14 trillion cubic feet).
Mohades also said the powerful Foundation for the Disinherited was carrying out seismological tests with the assistance of a Norwegian company in a gasfield straddling the Oman-Iranian border in the Sea of Oman.
Earlier this month a financial newspaper report said oil ministry officials were opposing a bid by the foundation to help develop the giant South Pars gas fields in the Gulf.
The Akbar-e-Eqtesad daily said ministry experts were arguing that a deal "cannot be signed with firms that have no experience in the sector," the paper said.
In another development, the oil ministry said Sunday that Norway's Norsk Hydro had signed a contract to search for oil and gas in northeast Iran's Aanaran region.
Iran last month signed a $3.8 billion buy-back contract with Italy's ENI to develop South Pars in what is believed to be the biggest deal between Tehran and a foreign company since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Iran is in the midst of building a major plant at Assaluyeh to treat gas from the giant Gulf South Pars field, which is due to be running by the end of 2001. Construction is being carried out by France's Total and South Korea's Hyundai.
The development of the South Pars fields, some 100 kilometres off the Iranian coast near Qatar, cover some 3,700 square kilometres (1,480 square miles) and should greatly increase Iran's natural gas production, both for its domestic needs and for export.
Iran wants to export gas to Europe and to India and, eventually, to the United States. Iran has the second largest gas reserves in the world after Russia, estimated at 20 trillion cubic metres (700 trillion cubic feet).
The country also is the second biggest oil producer in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, with an output of 3.7 million barrels a day, of which 2.4 million is exported. – (AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )