Despite the U.S. sanctions, Iran continues to explore and discover new oil and gas reserves and now ranks “first in terms of oil and gas reserves in the world,” Iranian media quoted Seyyed Saleh Hendi, head of exploration at the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), as saying.
“Based on our Five-Year Development Plan, we have had good achievements in exploration of oil and gas reservoirs, so that we now rank first in terms of oil and gas reserves in the world,” Fars news agency quoted Hendi as saying at a press conference this week.
According to the CIA World Factbook with data as at January 2017, Iran ranks fourth in the terms of biggest proved crude oil reserves in the world, behind Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Canada. In the natural gas proved reserves ranking, Iran is second behind Russia and ahead of Qatar and the United States.
The BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018 with data at end-2017 also places Iran fourth in proved oil reserves, behind Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Canada, and second in natural gas behind Russia.
According to Iran’s Hendi, the success rate in exploration in the country exceeds 60 percent. The U.S. sanctions have had no impact on exploration operations which continue as usual, the exploration chief at NIOC says, noting that the sanctions make Iran self-sufficient in producing equipment for oil and gas exploration, according to Iranian media.
Due to the U.S. sanctions, France’s Total—which had become the first supermajor to return to Iran after the previous sanctions were lifted-said in May that it would not be in a position to continue the South Pars 11 gas project and would have to unwind all related operations before November 4, 2018.
China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) is replacing Total in Iran’s multi-billion-dollar South Pars gas project, Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said at the end of November. However, reports emerged last week that CNPC had suspended investment in the giant South Pars gas field in Iran, following pressure from the United States and in an attempt to steer clear of U.S.-China tensions amid the ongoing trade talks.