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Mon 24 Aug 2009 04:34 PM

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Iran announces largest oil find for five years

UPDATE 1: More than 8.8bn barrels of crude oil discovered at the Sousangerd oilfield.

Iran's oil minister Gholamhossein Nozari said over 8.8 billion barrels of crude oil has been discovered in four new layers at the Sousangerd oilfield, the largest in five years, the IRNA news agency reported on Monday.

"Drilling all layers of this field was successfully finished in the depth of 5,026 metres and as expected the amount of in-place oil reserve is about 8.83 billions of barrel," Nozari was quoted as saying.

Nozari also said this was the biggest oilfield discovered in the past five years in the country.

Iran, which sits on the world's second-largest oil and gas reserves, is an attractive prospect for international firms starved of access to Middle East fields.

But Tehran has not signed a major deal with a large western oil company for years as political pressure over its nuclear programme continues to be a barrier of entry for these firms.

The West says Iran is working to develop nuclear bombs, but Tehran insists nuclear power is needed to produce electricity.

The outcry following the June election, which stirred the biggest internal crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution, is expected to further slow Iranian bureaucracy and scare dealmakers in big oil firms.

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