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EghtesadOnline: Crude oil production from the giant South Azadegan field near the Iraqi border will double in the present fiscal year that ends in March 2018, said an official at the Petroleum Engineering and Development Company (PEDEC) in charge of the field's development.

"South Azadegan output will reach 160,000 barrels per day by the yearend, almost double the current production level," Touraj Dehghani was quoted as saying by Shana on Tuesday.

In the first step, production is expected to reach 105,000-110,000 bpd within two months and 50,000 barrels will be added to daily output through March.

The plan comes after the field's output reportedly reached 80,000 barrels a day last month, a notable rise for an oilfield whose output had never crossed the 50,000-bpd threshold since production began a decade ago, according to Financial Tribune.

Located 100 km west of the provincial city of Ahvaz, South Azadegan is estimated to hold 33 billion barrels of oil in place. It is part of the West Karoun oil block in Khuzestan which holds 67 billion barrels of crude oil.

"The field's development started three years ago and 30 domestic companies have contributed to the project," Dehghani said.

South Azadegan is being developed in two phases; production is set to reach 320,000 bpd in the first phase and 600,000 barrels daily in the second and final phase.

Officials estimate that raising the rate of recovery from West Karoun oilfields by 1% would increase recoverable reserves by 670 million barrels, or some $33 billion in revenues with  $50 a barrel.

--- Int'l Tender in June

South Azadegan field will be tendered by the end of next month under Tehran's new model of contracts, dubbed as Iran Petroleum Contract (IPC), the official said.

"Some issues thwarted the field's tender which was scheduled to be held in the previous year," Dehghani said without elaboration.

Iran is pinning hopes on the investment and knowhow of international oil companies to enhance South Azadegan field's extraction rate.

Royal Dutch Shell, French energy giant Total S.A. and Malaysia's state oil and gas company, Petronas, have been touted as potential candidates to develop the field.

The country is looking to boost production capacity from joint fields with Iraq by more than 10% by March next year.

"Our priority is to work with prominent international companies … but they will have to collaborate with domestic firms," Dehghani noted, adding that the transfer of technology will be an integral part of the South Azadegan tender and any future oilfield development contract.

He estimated that South Azadegan will require $5 billion in investment. "Under the terms of the IPC, winner(s) of the field's development rights will finance the project."

Iran oil Iran Oilfields South Azadegan Oilfield PEDEC Touraj Dehghani