Iran General NewsIran aims to raise oil output by March -...

Iran aims to raise oil output by March – agency

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ImageReuters: Iran will seek to boost its oil output to 4.3 million barrels per day (bpd) by next March from 4.2 million bpd now, the head of the state oil company was quoted as saying on Sunday.

ImageTEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran will seek to boost its oil output to 4.3 million barrels per day (bpd) by next March from 4.2 million bpd now, the head of the state oil company was quoted as saying on Sunday.

The comments by Seifollah Jashnsaz, managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), comes less than two weeks after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying the country was reviewing a proposal to reduce crude production.

A senior energy official later said the world's fourth-largest crude producer had no plans to cut exports.

Jashnsaz told the Mehr News Agency in an interview Iran's oil reserves stood at 136 billion barrels. Saying Iran currently produced 4.2 million bpd, he added: "We will try to raise that to 4.3 million bpd by the end of the (current Iranian) year."

The 2008-09 Iranian year ends on March 20.

The Oil Ministry's main plan was to develop small oil fields and also to raise return from those already under production, Jashnsaz said, adding Iran was "not expecting to discover any major oil fields in the country henceforth."

Iran, the second largest producer in the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), has made windfall gains from the high oil price in recent years. Its oil income amounted to around $60 billion in the 2006-07 Iranian year and officials expect it to increase further this year.

However, analysts say Iran's oil industry needs a big injection of foreign investment to boost output, but that Western firms in particular are wary of investing in Iran after the U.N. imposed sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear programme.

Prior to Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution and the 1980-88 war with neighbouring Iraq, Iran produced roughly six million bpd, according to officials.

Jashnsaz also said he hoped development work would begin soon on a massive gas and oil field in the Gulf, despite a maritime border dispute with Kuwait.

"We believe half of the … field belongs to Iran while the Kuwaiti party regards its share to be more than 50 percent," Jashnsaz said.

The offshore Dorra field, also shared by Saudi Arabia, has been an area of contention between Tehran and Kuwait since the 1960s. Iran, which sits on top of the world's largest natural gas reserves after Russia, calls it Arash.

State-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation called last year for the rapid development of the field as the Gulf Arab state struggles to meet demand from power stations for gas.

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait reached a deal on their part of the maritime border in 2000.

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