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Iran boosts oil, gas production capacity to 4.3 million barrels a day

Gholam Hossein Nozari, new oil minister, claimed Iran boosted its oil and gas production capacity to 4.3 million barrels of oil equivalent a day and could reach the level of 4.5 million barrels a day within two years.

However, it would need US$15 billion (€10.2 billion) a year to develop new projects, said Gholam Hossein Nozari, reported the Dow Jones Newswires.

Nozari is in Riyadh for the OPEC summit.

Nozari said he was confident Iran could reach the 4.5 million barrels a day level on its own. Current production quota is at 4.15 million barrels a day, Nozari added.

Iran's crude oil exports are about 2.5 million barrels a day.

Nozari, a close ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was this week approved by the country's conservative-dominated parliament as oil minister. He had been caretaker oil minister since August, when his predecessor was dismissed by the president, and is also a former head of the state-owned National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).

Some 80 percent of Iran's public revenues comes from oil exports.

Nozari also said that Iran is still in talks with French oil and gas company Total SA (TOT) over the proposed South Pars gas development, but that a final decision has been delayed due to concerns over rising costs.

The comments appeared to counter recent remarks by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner who said France has asked major companies such as oil giant Total and Gaz de France to refrain from investing in Iran.

The call came amid unilateral U.S. sanctions against Iran and the push by the United States and its allies to impose a third round of U.N. sanctions on Tehran over its controversial nuclear program.

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