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Iran claims number-two position for world oil reserves

TEHRAN : Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh announced that new oil discoveries in the southwest of the country now meant the Islamic republic held the number-two position in world crude reserves.

"We now have the second largest oil reserves in the world, after Saudi Arabia," he told a news conference.

He said the oil ministry's new figure of 132 billion barrels of proven reserves, a jump of 17 billion barrels from before, came from discoveries in the Kushk and Hosseinieh oilfields -- now classed as one single field and renamed Yadavaran -- in the southwestern province of Khuzestan.

The minister said exploitable oil at Yadavaran stood at over three billion barrels, with a potential daily output of between 300,000 to 400,000 bpd.

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) website places Iran's proven crude reserves at 99.08 billion barrels for 2002, the latest year for which figures are given. That is below even the previous figures given by the Iranian oil ministry.

According to the website, Saudi reserves are estimated at around 262.79 billion barrels, with second place going to Iraq with 115 billion barrels.

With Iran ranking third according to those figures, fourth place is held by the United Arab Emirates (97.8 billion barrels) and fifth place by Kuwait (96.5 billion).

However, Zanganeh pointed to other figures, notably those given in June by British Petroleum (BP) which had put Iran in second place with 130.7 billion barrels.

BP put Iraq in third place with 115 billion barrels.

Zanganeh was asked if Iran would now be asking OPEC for an increase in its daily production quota.

"No, we have not made such a request," he said. "But there is general discussion going on in OPEC to work out a new quota system. These discussions will take a long time. It needs a consensus among all members."

He also predicted that by the end of the current Iranian year in March 2005, Iranian production capacity would reach 4.3 million bpd.

Iran's current quota is 3.744 million bpd, and its production and capacity are around 3.9 million bpd.

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