"A deal for Iran to export gas to Pakistan has been finalized," Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qassemi told a news conference at Tehran Oil Show, according to the ministry's website. He said Iran has constructed its tranche of the pipeline up to the Southeastern city of Iranshahr.
The minister said Iran is also constructing a pipeline to pump gas to Iraq, adding the pipeline is expected to be ready in 18 months.
"Once this pipeline is ready, Iran would export 20 million cubic meters of gas to Iraq to feed its power plants," he said. "Negotiations are under way to extend this pipeline up to Syria and the Mediterranean Sea," he added.
The minister said eight billion dollars have been withdrawn from the National Development Fund (NDF) to finance petrochemical projects. "We hope that allocation of this sum to downstream industries this year would boost development projects."
"Negotiations are underway for upstream oil sector activists to enjoy credit allocation from NDF," he said.
The minister said a fund has been established to support oil industry investors and manufacturers.
Qassemi said a Chinese company involved in development of Phase 11 of the giant South Pars Gas Field has been given a one-month deadline to start work or pull out.
He said Iranians have set records in development of Phase 11 of South Pars. "France's Total builds a refinery in 52 months, but in some of South Pars phases, similar projects have progressed 60 percent after 20 months," he added.
The minister said any contractor failing to register 2.5 percent progress a month would lose the project.
Qassemi said the upstream sector needs 40 billion dollars of investment this year, adding 30 billion dollars were invested in this sector last year.
The minister warned that Iran would cut oil supply to Europe if its sanctions are not lifted. "If the sanctions recently adopted by European Union are not lifted, we will definitely halt our exports to Europe and instead sell our oil to developing countries demanding Iran's high-quality crude," he said.
Regarding gas exports to Turkey, the minister said Tehran-Ankara deal is valid for 15 years and sanctions have no impact.
He said Iran has more than 600 billion barrels of oil in place. "At present, our recovery rate is at 25 percent. If we raise it to 26 percent, we can recover six billion more barrels."
Qassemi said the fate of all oil and gas fields Iran shares with neighbors would be decided this year.
The minister gave an upbeat assessment of the massive presence of foreign companies at Tehran Oil Show.
"Most of the current participants were present in the previous exhibitions and their presence now indicates their willingness for cooperation with Iran's oil sector," he said.
"The Oil Ministry is ready to support all these foreign companies if they invest in Iran's projects."
Qassemi also played down Japan's reduction of oil imports from Iran. "We have other customers to replace Japan," he said.