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Mon 30 Jun 2008 09:50 AM

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Iran hikes oil output to 4.23mn bpd

Iran boosts output to highest level since 1979 Islamic revolution, plans further production increase.

Iran has increased its oil output to 4.23 million barrels per day (bpd), the highest since its 1979 Islamic revolution, and plans to increase output further, Iranian media said on Monday.

"Iran aims to raise its daily oil production to 4.28 million bpd by the end of the year," Seifollah Jashnsaz, managing director of National Iranian Oil Company, was quoted as saying by the Iran News daily. He made similar remarks last month.

Iran's average daily output stood at 4.1 million bpd last year, he said, appearing to refer to the Iranian year that ends in March. The 4.23 million bpd output figure was reached on June 27, according to Iran's state Press TV satellite station.

"Iran's oilfields have the capacity to increase production; therefore, we will certainly reach our desired daily output by the end of the year," Jashnsaz said.

He was last month quoted as saying Iran would seek to boost its oil output to 4.3 million bpd by next March from 4.2 million bpd now.

The Oil Ministry's main plan was to develop small oil fields and also to raise returns from those already under production, Jashnsaz said in May, adding Iran was "not expecting to discover any major oil fields in the country henceforth."

Iran, the second largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), has made windfall gains from the high oil price in recent years. Its oil income amounted to around $60 billion in the 2006-07 Iranian year and officials expect it to increase further this year.

However, analysts say Iran's oil industry needs a big injection of foreign investment to boost output, but that Western firms in particular are wary of investing in Iran after the UN imposed sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear programme.

Prior to Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution and the 1980-88 war with neighbouring Iraq, Iran produced roughly six million bpd, according to officials. (Reuters)

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