Iran opens last phase of world’s largest offshore gas field

 The final development phase of Iran’s South Pars gas field, the world’s largest offshore gas field in the Persian Gulf, was inaugurated on Monday in the presence of President Ebrahim Raisi.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony at the Asaluyeh port in southwestern Bushehr province, Raisi termed the operation of the long-delayed project “complex and unique.”

He said the project will help Iran secure its share in fields shared with other neighboring states in the Persian Gulf.

The gas field will initially produce 15 million cubic meters of gas per day before increasing to 56 million cubic meters of gas, 50,000 barrels of gas condensate, and 750 metric tons of sulfur per day, the Iranian Oil Ministry said Monday.

South Pars gas field, located in the Persian Gulf, was discovered by the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) in 1990 and forms the northern part of the offshore North Dome gas field in Qatar.

Dubbed as the world’s biggest gas field in terms of reserves, South Pars is estimated to hold 14 trillion cubic meters of recoverable gas reserves and 18 billion barrels of recoverable liquefied natural gas.

The project was virtually put on the back burner after French giant Total backed out of it in August 2018 following the reinstatement of sanctions on Iran by the former US administration.

China National Company for Petroleum (CNCP) stepped in to replace Total as the operator, but it too walked out two months later amid the pressure of US sanctions.

In October 2018, NIOC started work on the project with the help of local experts and consultants.

Raisi said the project was implemented by local Iranian experts after foreign firms walked out of it, adding that the country is no longer dependent on foreign consultants.

In his remarks, Oil Minister Javad Owji said the inauguration of the project ended 20 years of wait and saved the country $800 million in development costs of the gas field.

He asserted that Iran has achieved self-reliance in all sectors of the oil industry in the past two years.

“We have become self-sufficient in all upstream and downstream sectors of the ministry of petroleum. We have achieved self-sufficiency in developing oil and gas fields and drilling onshore and offshore wells, as well as horizontal drilling, directional drilling, refinery construction, etc.,” he said.

Mohsen Khojasteh-Mehr, managing director of the NIOC, said in statements that the development of phase 11 of South Pars was “one of the most strategic and important projects” that materialized after 20 years of delay.

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