Iran has discovered a new oil field with reserves estimated at more than 50 billion barrels, President Hassan Rouhani said, adding the reserves from the field will be added to the country’s total, which is currently 150 billion barrels.

“I am telling the White House that in the days when you sanctioned the sale of Iranian oil and pressured our nation, the country’s dear workers and engineers were able to discover 53 billion barrels of oil in a big field,” Rouhani said.

The Iranian president did not go into details about how fast the field will begin to be developed. Right now, Iran is having enough trouble selling the oil it already produces abroad because of the U.S. sanctions, and this will soon enough force it to start reducing production—if it has not started already—as storage capacity fills up.

At 53 billion barrels, this discovery would come in as the largest in quite some time, certainly the biggest this year.

According to OPEC’s latest Monthly Oil Market Report, Iran pumped 2.16 million barrels daily in September, down by 34,000 bpd from the previous month. This is also down from an average of 3.55 million bpd in 2018 and 3.81 million bpd in 2017.

Despite U.S. sanctions, however, Iran is finding ways to export its crude, using ship-to-ship transfers at sea, where the crude is offloaded from the large tankers onto smaller vessels and delivered to the coast. Related: Why Oil Companies Aren’t Evil

Meanwhile, the country has restarted its uranium enrichment program: the program that led to international sanctions against Iran and, ultimately, to the so-called Iran nuclear deal that the United States withdrew from last year.

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According to the latest update from Tehran, the country can now enrich uranium to 60 percent. This, Reuters noted in a report, is a lot more than necessary for civilian use but 30 percent short of the grade of enrichment needed for nuclear weapons. The country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has rejected the idea that the uranium enrichment’s goal is weapon-grade uranium. However, most see the resumption of enrichment as a way to pressure the European signatories to the nuclear deal into finding a way around U.S. sanctions.

By Irina Slav for

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