Iran has discovered a new oil field that could provide an estimated 50 billion barrels, according to the country’s president.
Iran’s reserves could be boosted by a third by the find at a time when it is struggling to export energy.
President Hassan Rouhani’s announcement comes as Iran is reeling from crushing American sanctions after the US pulled out of its nuclear deal with world powers last year.
Mr Rouhani said the field was located in Iran’s southern Khuzestan province, home to its oil industry.
He added that 50 billion barrels would be added to Iran’s proven reserves – those that are commercially feasible to extract – of some 150 billion.
The new oil field could become Iran’s second-largest field after one containing 65 billion barrels in Ahvaz.
President Hassan Rouhani announces the discovery of the oil field
Making the announcement on Sunday in a speech in the desert city of Yazd, Mr Rouhani said: “I am telling the White House that in the days when you sanctioned the sale of Iranian oil, the country’s workers and engineers were able to discover 53 billion barrels of oil.”
Iran has the world’s fourth-largest proven deposits of crude oil and the world’s second-largest deposits of natural gas.
The country shares a massive offshore field in the Persian Gulf with Qatar.
Other countries have been struggling to save the 2015 nuclear agreement since the US pulled out, including Britain, Germany, France, Russia and China.
Under the accord, Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in return for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions but the US says Iran has flouted the terms of the agreement.
But they have been unable to offer a means by which Iran can sell its oil abroad.
A tense summer of mysterious attacks on oil tankers and Saudi oil facilities that the US blamed on Iran followed the collapse of the deal.
Tehran denied the allegations, although it did seize oil tankers and shoot down a US military surveillance drone.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil giant Aramco has said it is offering investors the chance to buy into the world’s most profitable company.
In its preliminary prospectus, Aramco revealed that it will sell up to 0.5% of its shares to individual retail investors but it did not indicate how much will be made available to institutional investors.
Saudi Aramco is the kingdom’s oil and gas producer, pumping more than 10 million barrels of crude oil a day, or some 10% of global demand.