VIENNA, March 20 (UPI) -- Iran's proven oil reserves are set to increase substantially in 2009 because of the development of major oil fields, Iranian oil officials said.
Iran "has made new discoveries in the past two, three years," said Seifollah Jashnsaz, managing director of the National Iranian Oil Co. "Many oil and gas fields are in line for development."
Iran sits on some of the world's largest oil reserves, falling just behind Saudi Arabia and Canada in terms of proven reserves. It is the second-largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Iranian Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari said in Vienna that exploration by domestic firms put the total reserves at around 138 billion barrels, up from 90 billion, Iran's Press TV reports.
In February, Nozari boasted that four oil fields near Lavan Island -- Lavan, Resalat, Reshadat and Salman -- have proven reserves of about 10 billion barrels.
Despite economic sanctions endorsed by the United States and its allies, Iran has made several ventures into the foreign energy market.
Earlier, Russia had suggested Iran may sell its oil on the St. Petersburg commodity exchange, and in March, the NIOC opened offices in Beijing.