TEHRAN, Sept. 2 (UPI) -- Iranian oil production by the end of 2016 will be in excess of 4 million barrels per day, more than in the pre-sanctions era, the nation's oil minister said.
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said the country will increase net oil production by more than 1.5 million barrels per day, bringing total production for the Islamic republic to just over 4 million bpd.
"Around the end of next year, we will be close to this figure," he said in an interview broadcast by CNN.
Zangeneh said his country could become the second largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, after Saudi Arabia, within seven or eight months of sanctions relief. Production during the pre-sanctions area was around 3 million bpd.
U.S. President Barack Obama is a few vote commitments shy of getting the congressional support needed to endorse the July nuclear agreement reached between Iran, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany. Approval would ease U.S. sanctions pressure on Iran's oil sector, a move already cleared by European powers.
Ali Larijani, the speaker of the Iranian parliament, said during a meeting with French officials Iran could help ensure energy security in Europe with oil and natural gas deliveries. The Iranian government said representatives from French oil company Total were among those attending an investment conference in Tehran in early 2015.
OPEC, in a monthly newsletter, said Iran is expected to start up dozens of oil and gas projects, worth an estimated $185 billion, by the end of the year.
More crude oil from OPEC members like Iran could put downward pressure on oil prices, which are depressed in a market skewed heavily toward the supply side. Iran said side price should be no deterrent to its production objectives.
The oil minister told CNN his country wouldn't curb its ambitions for the sake of the markets access of others.
"It's not fair," he said.