Iran is embarking on 12 oil and gas development projects to raise production by more than 500,000 barrels per day, which will require $21 billion in direct investment, state radio said Monday, July 30.
"With these 12 projects, the capacity of petroleum production will increase by 520,000 barrels per day," said the vice president of Iran's National Gas Company (INGC), Mehdi Mir-Moezi.
If the projects are fully realized, that would raise the country's gross production to 4.5 million barrels per day by the first quarter of 2006.
Mir-Moezi added that with the dozen projects "production of natural gas would increase by 220 million cubic metres (7.7 billion cubic feet) per day, and the capacity of liquefied gas would increase by 390,000 barrels per day."
According to official estimates, the projects would result in new revenues of $12.5 billion for the country every year.
Petroleum sales earned Iran some $16 billion in 2000, amounting to 82 percent of foreign currency earnings, and could hit $22 billion in 2001, according to official figures.
However, Mir-Moezi lamented Iran's inability to fully exploit its petroleum resources, saying the country "can only extract 100 billion of the 500 billion barrels of its (oil) reserves."
Iran has the world's second largest gas reserves after Russia, and is the second largest oil producer in OPEC after Saudi Arabia with an estimated daily production of 3.7 million barrels, 2.4 million barrels of which are exported.
Iran also has the world's second largest natural gas reserves with an estimated 20,000 billion cubic meters.
Groups from several western countries, such as Italy's Eni, France's TotalFinaElf and Britain's BP, as well as Japan National Oil, are active in Iran's petroleum and gas sectors.
US companies cannot invest in Iran's energy sector because of an embargo Washington unilaterally imposed on the country in 1995.
The US Senate also voted last week to extend sanctions against Iran for another five years, banning foreign interests from significantly investing in the country's oil and gas sectors.
But the vote still needs to come before the US Congress' lower body. — (AFP)
© Agence France Presse
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )