All South Pars Phases Up and Running by March 2018

All South Pars Phases Up and Running by March 2018All South Pars Phases Up and Running by March 2018

Iran's natural gas production will increase by 140 million cubic meters per day in the present Iranian fiscal year that ends in March, President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday.

"Phases 18, 19, 20 and 21 of South Pars Gas Field will come on stream this year and will boost daily gas output by 140 million cubic meters a day," Rouhani told a meeting marking the 50th anniversary of the state-run National Iranian Gas Company, IRNA reported.

All projects of the huge South Pars gas field that are being developed in 24 phases, will be completed by March 2018, the president said.

According to official reports, Iran produced 130 billion cubic meters of gas last year, or roughly 356 mcm/d. annual output is planned to reach 236 billion cubic meters, or almost 650 million cubic meters a day by March 2018.

The Rouhani administration has accelerated the development of South Pars phases. In March 2015, Rouhani officially inaugurated Phase 12, the biggest Iranian gas project in history.

Also in January, phases 15 and 16 were put into operation.

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. It adjoins Qatar’s North Field, which measures 6,000 square kilometers.

Iran is currently lagging behind Qatar in terms of extraction from the South Pars, with the tiny Arab neighbor reportedly drawing at a faster pace from the joint field due to extensive role of and investments from energy giants and oil technological companies.

------- Energy and Political Clout

Rouhani underscored energy independence as an important instrument of political power and stability, "especially for a country that can be a major oil and gas exporter."

"The issue of energy has always been closely associated with power, economic development and politics," Rouhani said, referring to punitive restrictions ostensibly imposed on Tehran over its nuclear program, but if fact also aimed at undermining the economy, particularly its key oil and gas sector.

International sanctions seriously undermined Iran's trade with the outside world and deprived it of much-needed technology and equipment to overhaul its aging oil and gas infrastructure.

But some international restrictions were lifted in January after Tehran and six world powers (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) struck a landmark deal in July 2015 to place time-bound limits on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for lifting of sanctions.

"They (big powers) used to tell us not to sell more than 1 million barrels of oil a day to restrain our role in the market. But we are now exporting 2.5 million barrels of crude oil and condensates and can increase exports as and when we decide," the president noted.

Iran sits on the world’s largest oil and natural gas reserves, holding 158 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and 34 trillion cubic meters of gas reserves.

The president also took stock of efforts to replace mazut and diesel with gas in power plants to curb the worsening air pollution.

"Supply of (mazut and diesel as) fuels to power plants was reduced to 18% last year from 43% three years ago and plans call for lowering the number to 9% this year."