South Pars Oil Output to Double in 2nd Phase

South Pars Oil Output  to Double in 2nd PhaseSouth Pars Oil Output  to Double in 2nd Phase

New estimates by the National Iranian Oil Company show Iran can produce as much as 70,000 barrels a day of crude oil from South Pars field in the Persian Gulf.

"The development of South Pars' oil layer is a priority for NIOC and the first phase of the project is near completion," Moshtaq Ali Gohari, deputy of NIOC's planning department, told Shana on Tuesday.

NIOC is planning to pump 35,000 barrels a day in the first phase and double that output in the second phase.

Gohari added that Iran is in the final stages of building a floating production storage and offloading unit, as part of its project to produce crude oil from South Pars.

The unit is expected to be transferred to the site of Iran's offshore oil well in South Pars by November and installed early next year.

If all goes according to plan, however, it will be at least a year before Iran starts to pump crude oil from South Pars.

The second production phase will be launched in the foreseeable future, considering the country's financial constraints and a slew of economic and energy projects that have hit the roadblock in the past few years.

The Iranian government has declared the development of oil and gas fields it shares with its Arab neighbors a top priority, following a landmark agreement with six world powers in July over its nuclear program in exchange for some sanctions relief.

However, the country is lagging behind Qatar in exploiting oil from the Persian Gulf reserves due to a lack of advanced technology and investment.

South Pars is the world's largest gas field, shared between Iran and Qatar, covering an area of 3,700 square kilometers of Iran's territorial waters in the Persian Gulf.

The Islamic Republic is pumping more than 400 million cubic meters of natural gas from the field.  It is also making efforts to tap into South Pars' oil layer, but its crude reservoirs are posing technical challenges.

The field is estimated to hold 7 billion barrels in proven reserves.

------- Pressing Ahead With Plans

"Iran will implement its South Pars project, despite the tumbling oil prices," said Ali Akbar Shabanpour, executive director of Pars Oil and Gas Company.

"Price fluctuations do not affect the development of South Pars phases."

He said it is still economically viable to develop the remaining phases of South Pars.

According to Shabanpour, the development of phases 17 and 18, which are still a few months away from going on stream, has cost around $6.2 billion, but the investment will return in 2.5 to 4 years.

The statements echo President Hassan Rouhani's commitment to launch all South Pars phases in two years, as the country is planning to dethrone Qatar as the biggest producer of natural gas in the region.

The Persian Gulf country is determined to play a bigger role in the global energy market, as it has pledged to boost oil production capacity to its pre-sanctions level of 3.6 million barrels a day and ramp up gas output to 1.2 billion cubic meters a day by 2020.