A find that would boost Iran’s proven reserves, Tehran on Sunday said it has discovered a massive new oil field. President Hassan Rouhani said the country’s economy had stabilised despite punishing US measures against its senior leaders, banking and finance sectors. “The vast field in the southwestern province of Khuzestan holds an estimated 53 billion barrels of crude,” he said.
The 80-metre deep reservoir stretches nearly 200 kilometres from Khuzestan’s border with Iraq to the city of Omidiyeh.
“This is a small gift by the government to the people of Iran,” he said in a speech from the central city of Yazd.
“We announce to America today that we are a rich nation, and despite your enmity and cruel sanctions, Iranian oil industry workers and engineers discovered this great oil field.” The find would add around 34 percent to the OPEC member’s current proven reserves, estimated by energy giant BP at 155.6 billion barrels.
Iran has experienced a sharp economic downturn this year, fuelled in part by US sanctions, with a plummeting currency sending inflation skyrocketing and hiking the prices of imports.
But Rouhani insisted the economy had now stabilised. "Our people weathered hard days in the past year ... (but) I believe America is now hopeless," he said.
Last week, in a step back from its commitments under a landmark 2015 nuclear deal, Iran resumed uranium enrichment at its underground Fordow plant. This came after the US extended its sanctions on Iran by targeting its construction sector, which the US linked to the country’s Revolutionary Guards. The United States also imposed sanctions on Iran’s sovereign wealth fund, whose board of trustees includes President Hassan Rouhani, as well as Etemad Tejarate Pars, a company that the Treasury Department said had sent money internationally on behalf of Iran’s defence ministry.
Iran has been locked in a standoff with the United States and its Gulf Arab allies since US President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 deal that gave it relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.