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EghtesadOnline: Iran is seeking to boost crude production from its joint fields with Iraq by 120,000 barrels under a short-term plan, the chief executive officer of Petroleum Engineering and Development Company said.

"We are currently producing 225,000 barrels per day from West Karun oilfields, but plan to raise output by another 120,000 barrels a day" in this fiscal year that ends in March 2017, Nouroddin Shahnazi said in an interview with Shana on Tuesday.

West Karun is the name of an oil-rich region in the southern Khuzestan Province that includes several large oilfields, including Azadegan, Yaran and Yadavaran, with the first two divided into north and south projects.

According to reports, Iraq started production from the joint fields more than a decade ago and has consistently ramped up production.

Iran has struggled to keep up with Iraq's output against a backdrop of international restrictions that significantly curtailed investment in its key oil sector over the past several years.

Data shows that Iran is now producing between 50,000-60,000 bpd from South Azadegan oilfield more than 12 years after sluggish attempts by Japanese, Chinese and Iranian contractors to develop the field. According to foreign sources, war-ravaged Iraq ramped up production from the shared field to more than 200,000 bpd in 2014.

Shahnazi said the planned rise in production will be driven by an additional 60,000 barrels per day from South Azadegan as well as 30,000 bpd each from North Yaran and Azar fields.

By March 2020, output from the joint fields with Iraq is slated to increase by 650,000 bpd, including 320,000 bpd from South Azadegan, 75,000 bpd from the first phase of North Azadegan, 180,000 bpd from phase 2 of Yadavaran, 65,000 bpd from Azar, 30,000 bpd from North Yaran and 25,000 barrels per day from South Yaran.

  Talks With Sinopec, CNPC

China National Petrochemical Company (CNPC) and the China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) are in the final stages of negotiations to retain their role in North Azadegan and Yadavaran projects, the official said.

Chinese companies seized the opportunity to work in Iran's energy industry after most western oil and gas firms left Iran in 2011 and 2012 in fear of violating sanctions, according to Financial Tribune.

Sinopec signed a contract in 2008 to develop the first phase of Yadavaran oilfield within three years. But the project faced a series of setbacks after tighter international financial and trade restrictions were imposed in 2011 and 2012 against Tehran over its nuclear program.

CNPC had also inked a $2.5 billion deal in 2010 to develop the North and South Azadegan oilfields, but it too was dropped from the South project in 2014 despite faring better in North Azadegan.

Negotiations with the Chinese comes as Iran said on Sunday it will start to accept bids for the South Azadegan oilfield in a tender planned for September or early October as it hopes to raise $10 billion in foreign investment for its oil industry.

Iranian oil Iran's oil production Joint Fields Nouroddin Shahnazi