Rouhani: The Pressure from Sanctions is Over

Iran begins producing more natural gas from field shared with Qatar, which President Rouhani says is proof Western sanctions didn't work.

Ben Ariel ,

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani

Iran on Tuesday said it began producing more natural gas from a giant field shared with Qatar, as President Hassan Rouhani declared that the pressure from international sanctions was over, reports The Associated Press (AP).

The additional production from the South Pars field, known as North Dome in Qatar, will add 81 million cubic meters of gas to Iran's total production, currently at about 600 million cubic meters per day, state TV reported.

During a ceremony marking inauguration of the expansion project, Rouhani claimed the increased gas production proved Western sanctions, imposed over Iran's s disputed nuclear program, were ineffective.

"We succeeded in finalizing huge projects during the sanctions. By inaugurating this project, we announce to the world that the era of pressures ... is over," he said, according to AP.

The expanded production at South Pars will also yield some 120 thousand barrels of liquid gas and 750 metric tons (827 tons) of sulfur per day, the report said. Tehran invested more than $7 billion in the phase. The project includes three offshore platforms, containing 36 wells.

After his election in 2013, Rouhani pledged his administration would increase production from South Pars, located about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) south of Tehran.

According to Iranian media cited by AP, Qatar currently produces 40 percent more natural gas from the joint field. Qatar began production from its share of the field in 1989, while Iran only began working on its side in 1998.

Now, Iran produces some 425 million cubic meters from the field, according to the data.

Iran plans to increase its gas production to one billion cubic meters per day by 2018. The country has the world's second-largest natural gas reserves after Russia.

The sanctions imposed by the West over Iran’s nuclear program severely hurt the country’s economy several years ago, as in 2013 the Iranian rial plummeted to an all-time low.

At one point, then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad steadfastly denied that the sanctions are hurting the economy, but he later admitted that Iran lost a substantial part of its oil revenues in 2012 due to sanctions imposed over its disputed nuclear program.

Rouhani, elected in 2013, has taken an approach seen by the West as more “moderate” in order to have the sanctions lifted. He has succeeded to a degree, with an interim deal reached later in 2013, under which Iran committed to limit its uranium enrichment to five percent and is gradually winning access to $4.2 billion of its oil revenues frozen abroad and some other sanctions relief.