May 6 (Bloomberg) -- Iran, hampered by sanctions over its nuclear program, plans within four years to boost crude-output capacity by 1 million barrels a day at fields it shares with neighboring states, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said.
“This will be the biggest achievement in the history of the oil industry in Iran,” he said today at the opening of an energy conference in Tehran.
The fourth-largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is also pressing ahead with work at South Pars, part of a gas deposit straddling the border with Qatar, Zanganeh said. Iran expects to complete several of the project’s 17 phases in about three years, he said.
The government is trying to attract foreign investment in crude, natural gas and chemicals production even as it seeks the removal of U.S. and European sanctions. The U.S. and allied states say Iran is working to develop atomic-weapons technology, a claim the government denies. An interim nuclear accord between the two sides expires July 20.
An increase in oil-production capacity on the scale Zanganeh described would boost Iran’s output by as much as 35 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The country pumped 2.84 million barrels a day in April, the data show.
European companies including Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Repsol SA previously had contracts to develop areas of the South Pars gas field. Their contracts expired in the last decade after sanctions blocked the companies from operating there.
Iran expects to increase gas exports after making progress at South Pars, Ali Majedi, a deputy oil minister, said at the conference. A pipeline to export gas to Europe via Turkey could be ready in two to three years if Turkey and Iran can agree on the plan, Majedi said.
Iran’s petrochemicals industry needs investment of more than $70 billion, Zanganeh said. The country plans to start eight gas condensate refineries this year, each with a fuel-processing capacity of 80,000 barrels a day, he said.
Six hundred foreign companies are participating in the three-day conference this year, three times as many as in 2013, the oil ministry’s Shana news website reported, citing Akbar Nehmatollahi, a ministry spokesman.
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