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Will South Pars help bring Iran's economy back to life?

The newly inaugurated phases 15 and 16 of Iran's giant South Pars project have the potential to greatly boost the country's economy.
EDITORS' NOTE:  Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on their ability to film or take pictures in Tehran.

A worker walks down a walkway on the SPQ1 gas platform on the southern edge of Iran's South Pars gasfield in the Gulf, off Assalouyeh, 1,000 km (621 miles) south of Tehran, January 26, 2011. Picture taken January 26.  REUTERS/Caren Firouz (IRAN - Tags: BUSINESS ENERGY) - RTXX58R

The Persian Gulf is home to one of the largest independent gas reservoirs in the world. Shared between Iran and Qatar, the Iranian section of this giant field is called South Pars, while the Qatari section is named North Dome. South Pars holds some 14 trillion cubic meters of natural gas and 18 billion barrels of gas condensates. This is equivalent to 7.5% of the world’s natural gas, and half of Iran’s total reserves. In this vein, the International Energy Agency ranks Iran as the fourth-largest gas producer in the world, producing 4.6% of the global total. Yet Iran is not even among the world’s top 10 gas exporters.

To remedy this situation, Iran is prioritizing development of South Pars while simultaneously increasing gas exports. Thus, for Iran, phases 15 and 16 of its giant South Pars gas field are perhaps its most important. The head of South Pars phases 15 and 16 Consortium, Hassan Sharifabadi, recently announced the inauguration of the project at an official ceremony attended by President Hassan Rouhani. These phases will have a significant impact on Iran’s economy and political environment. At present, the output from South Pars satisfies 55% of Iran’s domestic gas consumption, which is normally 430 million cubic meters a day. However, Madjid Boujarzadeh, the National Iranian Gas Company’s spokesman, has said that consumption recently increased to 500 million cubic meters a day due to seasonal growth during the cold months.

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