21 May 2023 - 13:53
  • News ID: 473061
Iran rivals foreigners in exploration

Exploration in Iran’s petroleum industry has advanced to the extent that a large number of countries currently are asking Iran to share its geological experience with them. Mehdi Fakour, director of exploration at National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), has said Iran has achieved geochemical and geobotanic technology in oil exploration, thereby becoming a rival to foreign companies in exploration technologies. Iran is currently in oil and gas exploration relationship with four neighbors. Talks are also under way for exporting local know-how and equipment to these countries. Fakour said it would create value and income for Iran.

Exploration is the first step in the petroleum industry. Due to massive hydrocarbon reserves, Iran is experiencing extensive exploration activities. There are a total of 200 sedimentary basins in the world. Some countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar, have only one sedimentary basin, but there are nine in Iran, three of which are internationally known. The Zagros basin is home to the highest hydrocarbon reserves. Discovery of reserves in the Persian Gulf and the Zagros Mountains gives Iran special opportunities. Fakour said Iran’s energy roadmap attaches special importance to exploration, which has been already endorsed by Minister of Petroleum Javad Owji and CEO of NIOC Mohsen Khojastehmehr. The roadmap is instrumental in the demographic displacement, environment and social life.

Overseas exploration

The NIOC Directorate of Exploration is currently operating in the Middle East and Eurasian nations. As in regional countries, there is no local exploration directorate, Iran can jump at the chance to export technology and equipment to them. According to Fakour, Tajikistan, Iraq and Oman are willing to benefit from Iranian exploration knowledge. “During a recent visit to Iran by the Omani Sultan, his energy advisor who serves as minister of oil suggested establishment of a joint working group to review Iran’s ideas for exploration cooperation,” said Fakour.

Farsi-speaking Tajikistan is also willing to broaden its cooperation with Iran in exploration. Minister Owji held talks with Tajik energy officials and reached agreement on five areas, three of which related to exploration. Fakour said a technical team from the NIOC Directorate of Exploration visited Tajikistan in late March. He added that Tajikistan’s energy minister visited Iran twice last calendar year, indicating the importance of cooperation with Iran in the energy sector. The Tajiks want Iran to help establish a directorate of exploration in their Energy Ministry, develop exploration structures, and reclaim low-yielding and capped wells.

Fakour said following talks with the Tajik side on four fields exploration activity including geology, petroleum engineering and drilling has been done, adding that it was the result of an active energy diplomacy pursued by the 13th administration.

Referring to the meeting with Iranian manufacturers to engage them in cooperation with the Tajik side, he said: “The Tajik ambassador to Tehran favored utilization of Iranian-made equipment in the petroleum industry of his own country. Iranian manufacturers wanted to set up workshops there. That is while we used to be mere importers of equipment.”

Complex reservoirs

The complexity of Iranian hydrocarbon reservoirs had made Iranian engineers highly skilled. The reservoirs in the regional nations are not such complex and therefore they are now willing to benefit from Iranian technical know-how in exploration activities. A Russian delegation recently visited Iran and met with the CEO of NIOC to discuss manner of benefiting from Iranian know-how. Iraq, which is also rich in hydrocarbon, needs Iran’s exploration experience. Cooperation in this sector was discussed during a visit to Tehran of an Iraqi delegation.

According to Fakour, these negotiations will strengthen the position of exploration in Iran and will be a new window for the NIOC Directorate of Exploration, because these measures expose the knowledge of exploration management to foreign competitors, in such a way that in the meetings held with the energy authorities of foreign countries, some foreign ministers learnt about Iran’s potential.

Training courses for foreign countries were among the other topics that Fakour mentioned as the intention of foreign countries and said: “Considering the existing knowledge in the field of exploration, foreigners welcome these courses.”

“Whereas the period of using fossil fuels is coming to an end, this has led the owners of these fuels to think of faster extraction, and considering Iran's 110-year history in the oil industry, it has a great advantage in exporting technical and engineering services and equipment, which can create many job opportunities for the country,” he said.

Long-term plans

Currently, exploration activities are going ahead more rapidly than in the past, so that the country's exploration roadmap has been drawn and gas and oil exploration has been included in the program. According to Fakour, identification of joint and border structures is the first priority while gas structures are the second priority, and the existing structures in the Persian Gulf are the third priority.

On the other hand, a 5-year exploration plan is also intended for the 7thNational Development Plan, and a 10-year plan has progressed by about 70%, and a 20-year plan is being prepared.

Fakour said oil and gas exploration operations cover 19 provinces. “In some provinces, exploration and seismic testing is done for the first time; Guilan, West Azarbaijan, East Azarbaijan, Zanjan and Ardebil.” He said that 12 exploration wells would be drilled in various provinces in the current calendar year.

Exploration technology


The use of new exploration technologies and cooperation with knowledge-based companies are among the topics that are carried out in the NIOC Directorate of Exploration. Currently, aerial magnetometry and surface geochemistry operations are modern technologies that have been utilized by Iranian engineers in the field of exploration.

According to Fakour, in geochemical projects, which is new like magnetometry, Iran is now among the top four in the world. Currently, the risk of drilling with magnetometric and geochemical works has been reduced to 2%.

“In the tests of the geochemical method in two regions, we have received 95% positive feedbacks and if this method is used in exploration, it will greatly reduce the exploration costs, and the exploration time will be reduced, of course, this method is used onshore,” he said.

Gas hydrates

Exploration of gas hydrates in the Gulf of Oman is another issue that is followed up on by the NIOC Directorate of Exploration. According to Fakour, a vessel is currently collecting information in the Gulf of Oman. It should be noted that Iran has not yet reached maturity in the field of gas hydrate exploration knowledge, but it has been able to achieve gas hydrate exploration technology along with countries like China and Japan.

Large seismic survey

The Haftkel-Naft  Sefid project, extending over 2,250 square kilometers in Khuzestan Province, recently started. It covers the cities of Ramhormoz, Haftkel, Bavi, Shoushtar, Masjed Soleiman and Bagh Malik. This is the largest seismic data gathering project in Iran’s petroleum industry. Given the project’s ecology, the NIOC Directorate of Exploration has been prompted to make planning for accelerating the project and protect the environment.

Iran Petroleum

News ID 473061


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