TEHRAN, July 11 (UPI) -- Sanctions on Iran have forced the country to look inward, where it expects to uncover as much as $50 billion in Caspian oil reserves, an official said.
U.S. and European sanctions targeting the Iranian energy sector went into force recently. Sanctions are meant to strip revenue away from Iran that could fund its controversial nuclear program.
Ahmad Qalebani, managing director of the National Iranian Oil Co., said the value of crude oil reserves in the Caspian Sea could pass $50 billion.
"Two years ago some countries thought that by banning the sales of gasoline and other oil products, they could mount pressure on Iranians," he was quoted by state-funded broadcaster Press TV as saying. "However, this threat has been turned into an opportunity by (the) oil industry."
Iran last month announced it discovered oil in the Caspian Sea in waters that might be claimed by Azerbaijan.
Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan haven't agreed on maritime borders since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Both of those governments are at odds over a disputed oil field in the Caspian Sea.
The field, called Kapaz on the Azeri side and Serdar in Turkmenistan, holds an estimated 580 million barrels of oil and 1.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.