Iran has lifted natural gas production capacity from the world’s largest reserves after launching six offshore projects valued at $20 billion at the giant South Pars field, officials said.
The country raised total production capacity at South Pars to 570 million cubic meters a day of gas, putting it almost on par with neighboring Qatar, which produces from an adjacent portion of the same deposit, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said in the port city of Assaluyeh. Iran invested $20 billion to complete the six projects, or phases, President Hassan Rouhani said at the event, Bloomberg reported.
Iran is on track to out-produce Qatar, the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, at the Persian Gulf deposit. The Iranian minister said the country will increase production to 630 million cubic meters a day by March 2018 – the end of the current Iranian calendar year, Iran’s Shana news agency said.
Each of the new projects produces 28 million cubic meters a day, Zanganeh told reporters late Saturday. They include phases 17 through 21, with phase 19 having two parts.
Separately, Ali Kardor, managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) said Iran has so far recovered 1,060 billion cubic meters of natural gas from South Pars, resulting in a revenue of over $191 billion, according to Shana news agency.
Launching new development projects at the field will bring Iran's revenues from it close to that of Qatar, he said.
Qatar announced earlier this month that it was ending a 12-year ban on new projects at its section of the shared field. Qataris call their part of the deposit the North Field, which together with South Pars forms the world’s largest reservoir of non-associated gas. Iran has no plans to interfere with Qatar over its activities at North Field, Zanganeh said.
“They can carry out their development projects as we do ours,” he said. “We do our job and let them do theirs.”
Iran’s construction of LNG plants stalled for years due to international sanctions, which were eased in January 2016. Such facilities aren’t a priority given an impending worldwide glut of liquefied gas. The country is also considering pipelines to Oman, Pakistan and other countries, though cross-border links are scarce in the politically unstable region.
Iran targets exporting 50 million cubic meters a day of gas to neighboring Iraq once that country can arrange for a letter of credit to finance the purchase, Zanganeh said.