TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- A new oilfield discovered in southwestern Iran is the second largest found in the country, Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh said on Monday.
The Namavaran oilfield has an estimated 53 billion barrels of reserves, he said. Iran’s largest oilfield contains 65 billion barrels and is located in Ahvaz.
Exploration started at the site in 2016, with 31 billion barrels previously discovered and an additional 22 billion barrels added to previous estimates, Zangeneh said.
Approximately 2.2 billion barrels of oil have been added to the country’s production capacity if there is a ten percent recovery rate at the oilfield, he added.
According to the minister, there is a possibility that the field will be expanded in a southwest and southeast direction.
Iran ranks as the world’s fourth–largest reserve holder of oil, and the second-largest holder of gas reserves, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Iran had an estimated 157 billion barrels of proved crude oil reserves in January 2018, the EIA website said.
Since withdrawing from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, the United States has reimposed sanctions to strangle its vital oil trade.
President Hassan Rouhani announced the major discovery on Sunday, calling it "a small gift by the government to the people of Iran."
The oil layer is about 3.1 kilometers deep, with an average thickness of 80 meters, spanning 2,400 square kilometers from Bostan to Omidiyeh, the president said.
President Rouhani said the discovery had been made despite U.S. hostilities which have mainly targeted Iran’s oil sector.
"Today we are announcing to the US that we are a rich country and despite your enmity and tyrannical sanctions, the Iranian oil industry's workers and engineers have succeeded to discover this vast oil field," Rouhani added.
It’s been one year-and-a-half since President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the nuclear deal with Iran and embarked on a policy of "maximum pressure.”
The Trump administration reckoned that the campaign would send Iran’s economy into a "death spiral,” leaving Tehran with the choice to either surrender or collapse.
"Neither of these predictions came to pass,” U.S. news publication Foreign Policy wrote last week. "Rather, Iran now enters its second year under maximum pressure strikingly confident in its economic stability and regional position,” it added.
According to the magazine, "the Iranian economy stays afloat in part because it is diversified—a trait that Washington often overlooks.”
Iran is a founding member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and sits on what were already the world's fourth-biggest oil reserves and second-largest gas reserves.
Touching on OPEC's upcoming meeting next month, Zangeneh said the oil-producing organization is expected to further reduce production.