Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday announced plans to turn Jask, the country’s Southern port and Naval Base on the Gulf of Oman, in Hormozgan province, into an economic and industrial center and hub for exporting Iranian crude oil.
“Petrochemical, steel and aluminum industries will be established in the Jask region, this region will be turned into an industrial region and we will build a port to export oil to the world,” Rouhani said in Jask, according to semi-official state news agency Fars on Wednesday.
For Iran’s Navy, Jask’s strategic location allows it to block access into the Persian Gulf through the Straight of Hormuz.
The expansion of the Jask port comes as Iran’s economy booms with the lifting of international sanctions against the regime and the discovery of new oil and gas reserves.
Rouhani spoke as Hormoz Ghalavan, head of the country’s oil and gas exploration company, announced new reserves had been discovered in the Zagros mountains and Iran’s central regions and would be announced formally soon, according to an interview in semi-official Mehr News.
Mehr quoted the Oil Ministry as saying natural gas reserves stand at 33.6 trillion cubic meters, equivalent to 234 billion barrels of crude, and are the largest in the world. Iran’s total oil and gas reserves are estimated to be 400 billion barrels, it said.
Iran’s natural gas reserves, indeed, are the world’s largest, followed closely by Russia with 32.9 trillion cubic meters. Iran’s proven oil reserves stand at 157 billion barrels, about half as much Venezuela, and also behind Saudi Arabia and Canada.
On Wednesday Fars published a Reuters report that tanker arrival data showed that India’s Essar Oil Company, a large buyer of Iranian oil, increased its imports from Iran in January. Essar received 141,900 barrels per day (bpd) of oil from Iran last month, up from 54,200 bpd in December, with shipments 31 per cent greater than the year before.
Also on Wednesday, Iran’s Customs Office said non-oil imports rose to $42 billion in the first 11 months of the current Iranian year, from March 21, 2013 to February 20, 2014. The UAE, China, India, South Korea and Turkey were the main exporters to Iran during the period, according to Fars.
Iran’s largest trading partner was Iraq, with $4.408 billion of exports and $48 million of imports in the 11-month period. Iran also exported $1.853 billion of goods and services to Afghanistan versus imports of $23 million of commodities.
“The volume of Iran’s exports to Turkmenistan reached $640 million, to Egypt $409 million and to Azerbaijan $377 million in the last 9 months while the volume of Iran’s imports from the mentioned countries amounted to $76 million, $6 million and $18 million respectively,” the Customs Office said.
The Iranian Customs Data also said the value of Iran’s foreign trade exchanges reached $62.5 billion during the first nine months of the Iranian year.