"Azadegan's output, standing at180,000 barrels per day, could have experienced a much bigger surge, if Iranian contractors were tasked with the development venture earlier," Touraj Dehqani said.
Dehqani noted that when China National Petroleum Corporation, the previous contractor of the field, abandoned the project in 2014, only 25 wells had been drilled at the site, while PEDEC has completed drilling operations for more than 100 wells since then.
Pointing to South Azadegan field production, the official added that the output has reached 100,000 bpd and operations to boost production level have gained momentum.
Located 100 km west of the provincial city of Ahvaz, South Azadegan is estimated to hold 33 billion barrels of oil in place. It is part of the West Karoun oil block in Khuzestan, which holds 67 billion barrels of crude oil, Financial Tribune reported.
"The field's development started three years ago and 30 domestic companies have contributed to the project's first phase," he said.
The field's second phase will be developed via a tender within the framework of Iran Petroleum Contract, the country's new model of contracts for oil and gas projects.
According to oil minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, multinationals, including Italian oil and gas firm Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, France's Total, Japan's Inpex and Malaysia's Petronas, have submitted their master development plans to expand Azadegan Oilfield.
West Karoun, Iran's top priority for raising crude production to restore the market share it lost to international sanctions, includes Mansouri, Yaran, Yadavaran as well as North and South Azadegan joint fields. The block holds an estimated 67 billion barrels of oil in place.
Asked about North Azadegan Oilfield, Dehqani said currently 80,000 barrels of crude are extracted from the field and further production rise depends on attracting foreign investment and getting access to cutting-edge know-how.