Iran Touts Caspian Exploration Success

The world's fourth-largest oil producer, Iran is set to further its exploration successes within its territorial waters in the Caspian Sea with a collection of oil finds and an officially inaugurated semisubmersible drilling rig.

Citing Iranian Oil Minister Gholam-Hossein Nozari, Iranian state-run PressTV reported Thursday that the country's exploration efforts have led to the discovery of forty-six oil fields in the Caspian Sea, which is estimated to hold as many as 17 billion to 44 billion barrels of oil reserves.

According to Oil Minister Gholam-Hossein Nozari, eight of the identified 46 oil fields are ready for exploitation.

Currently, Iran's most significant offshore exploration success is South Pars, the world's largest gas field. Operated by the National Iranian Oil Company, the massive South Pars field is located on the Iranian border with Qatar in the Persian Gulf and is estimated to contain recoverable reserves of some 14 trillion cubic meters of natural gas and 18 billion barrels of condensates.   

Iran Alborz Ready to Spin Bit

Iran officially inaugurated its domestically-built 14,000-ton semisubmersible drilling rig today, which will be situated within the Iranian sector of the Caspian Sea and will commence deepwater drilling to help boost the country's oil output.

National Iranian Oil Company's Managing Director, Seyfollah Jashnsaz, told local media, "If the project was implemented by foreign contractors the cost would [have] exceed[ed] $450 million. However, with the utilization of domestic expertise the cost was reduced to $80 million. All the construction, installation, and operation works of the drilling rig have been carried out by Iranian experts."

Touted by Iran as the largest in the Middle East, the Iran Alborz semisub can operate at water depths up to 1,030 meters and drill down to 6,000 meters under the seabed. The rig is managed by North Drilling Company and was built by Sadra Shipyard at the Nekkairan shipyard.

The southern part of the Caspian Sea, where Iran will continue to hunt for additional hydrocarbon finds using its own semisub, is estimated to contain at least 32 billion barrels of oil reserves.

Caspian Developments

Oil Minister Gholam-Hossein Nozari added that the country plans to construct a new oil pipeline for its Caspian developments. The $2 billion oil pipeline will link the northern part of Neka in the Caspian Sea to the southern port of Jask in the Gulf of Oman.

Earlier this year, Iran opposed the construction of a subsea oil pipeline connecting Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan through the Caspian Sea.

According to Iran's deputy oil minister for international affairs, Hossein Noqrekar-Shirazi, the proposed pipeline could potentially damage the Caspian's marine ecosystem.

The world's largest inland body of water, the Caspian Sea is bordered by five countries -- Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan -- all of which have yet to map their respective maritime and seabed boundaries.