Oil and gas in Iran


  • Iran holds the world’s fourth largest proved crude oil reserves and second largest natural gas reserves.
  • Crude oil production has substantially declined, and natural gas production growth has been slower than expected in recent years.
  • Iran consumed approximately 244 million toe of primary energy in 2013.
  • Natural gas and oil accounted for 98% of Iran’s total primary energy consumption in 2013.
  • Iran is the second largest oil consuming country in the Middle East.
  • Iran’s primary energy consumption has grown by almost 50% since 2004.
  • The first phase of Iran’s energy reform was implemented in 2010 and the second in 2014.
  • The Iranian constitution prohibits foreign or private ownership of natural resources.
  • Iran is one of the founding members of OPEC.
  • Energy prices are subsidised, particularly gasoline prices.


  • International sanctions have stymied progress across Iran’s energy sector.
  • Sanctions have prompted a number of cancellations and delays of upstream projects.
  • The sanctions impede Iran’s ability to sell oil, resulting in a near 1 million bpd drop in crude oil and condensate exports in 2012 compared with 2011.
  • Between fiscal year 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 oil and natural gas export revenue dropped by 47%.
  • In the 2013/2014 fiscal year it fell by a further 10%.
  • Sanctions have also impacted Iran’s natural gas sector.
  • Natural gas production growth has been lower than expected due to a lack of foreign investment and technology.
  • In recent years there has been progress made during negotiations to end sanctions.
  • Crude oil and condensate exports dropped from 2.6 million bpd in 2011 to 1.3 million bpd in 2013 as a result of sanctions.
  • In 2014, exports increased by approximately 150 000 bpd to 1.4 million bpd.


  • Iran holds approximately 10% of world crude oil reserves and 13% of OPEC reserves.
  • 70% of crude oil reserves are located onshore.
  • As of January this year, Iran had approximately 158 billion bbls of proved crude oil reserves.
  • It is thought that 80% of Iran’s reserves were discovered before 1965.
  • Iran produced 3.4 million bpd of petroleum and other liquids in 2014.
  • Most of Iran’s crude oil is generally medium in sulfur content.
  • The largest buyers of Iranian crude oil and condensate are China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey.
  • Iran exported approximately 300 000 bpd of petroleum products in 2014.
  • Oil terminals in Kharg, Lavan and Sirri Islands handle almost all of Iran’s crude oil exports.

Natural gas

  • Iran holds 17% of the world’s proved natural gas reserves and more than one third of OPEC’s.
  • The South Pars gas field is estimated to hold approximately 40% of Iran’s gas reserves.
  • Most of Iran’s natural gas reserves are undeveloped.
  • Iran is the world’s third largest dry natural gas producer.
  • Iran trades margin amounts of natural gas regionally via pipelines.
  • There is no infrastructure in place to import or export LNG.
  • Iran accounts for less than 1% of global natural gas trade.
  • Iran exports natural gas to Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Edited from report by Claira Lloyd

Published on 30/06/2015

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