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Iran discovers natural gas field in Fars province

Tehran — Iran said Sunday it discovered a natural gas deposit in the southern province of Fars, holding as much as 19 trillion cubic feet of the fuel.

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The reservoir called Eram also holds as much as 385 million barrels of condensates, Reza Dehghan, director of development and engineering affairs at the National Iranian Oil Company, told reporters at the oil ministry in Tehran. Drilling took nine months and started last year, he said. The value of the resource could be as much as $40 billion, he said.

Iran shares ownership of the world's largest natural gas deposit, South Pars and North Field in the Persian Gulf, with Qatar. While the field has helped Qatar to become the world's largest liquid natural gas exporter, Iran has mostly used its part of the field for domestic uses.

The development of the Eram gas field will start in two or three years, Dehghan said. Once production starts, the gas will be used for domestic consumption as well as for Eram itself to prevent a decline in pressure.

--Aresu Eqbali in Tehran;

--Edited by Claudia Carpenter,