Iran has invested a total of $28.8 billion in its oil industry in past two years despite financial and technical strains, oil minister Javad Owji said Saturday.

Iran’s oil exports are under third-party sanctions by the United States and certain technologies are banned from being sold to Iran. Owji said these factors complicate much-needed investment in the country’s oil and gas industry.

Since assuming office in 2021, Owji has repeatedly said that the energy sector needs close to $250 billion in investments to stay productive and compete with other oil producers in the region. Saudi Arabia has invested hundreds of billion in the past 15 years.

However, various international sanctions have limited Iran’s financial resources, and Western sanctions on technology, some available only from large Western countries have left Iran’s oil and gas sector in an acute need for overhaul.

Lack of investments have led to natural gas shortages, while Iran has the second largest reserves in the world. This in turn reduces production at petrochemical and steel plants as well as deprives electricity generating plants of cleaner energy.

Owji claimed that $14.5 billion was invested in dozens of unfinished and new projects last year, and $14.3 billion is being invested this year.

Although Owji’s claims of large investments cannot be independently verified, and the government has a habit of exaggerating its meager accomplishments, he underlines that the oil industry is the most important economic sector and needs more attention than others.

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