DUBAI, Sept 22 Iran's crude oil production will
remain steady this year compared to last year, the country's oil
minister was quoted as saying.
Rostam Qasemi's remarks, made to an Iranian news agency on
Friday, countered a forecast by the U.S. Energy Information
Administration (EIA) of a fall in Iranian production this year.
Iran produced about 3.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of
crude oil in 2011, according to OPEC figures.
"The amount of the country's crude oil production this year
will be the same as the production last year," said Qasemi,
according to the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA).
The EIA has said it expects Iranian production to fall by
about 850,000 bpd by the end of this year to 2.7 million bpd,
and fall by another 200,000 bpd in 2013.
Iran's oil sector suffers from a lack of investment needed
to offset natural declines in productivity. Sanctions levied by
the West over Iran's nuclear programme have made it difficult
for foreign companies investing in Iran's upstream production to
continue their business there. The European Union banned imports
of Iranian oil starting July 1.
But Iranian officials maintain the country's oil sector and
sales have not been hurt by the sanctions. Qasemi said on Friday
that a number of new oil and gas fields had been discovered in
the last year and new figures for the country's reserves would
be announced shortly.
"Iran's crude is being supplied on the world markets and
Iran has its traditional buyers," Qasemi told Shana, Iran's oil
news website, on Wednesday.