Iran's First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri hailed the unsparing efforts made by the oil ministry's staff to promote the country's technical and engineering know-how, and announced that Iran is scheduled to produce and export more natural gas in the current Iranian calendar year (started March 21). Speaking at a meeting with the oil and gas contractors of Pars Special Economic and Energy Zone (PSEEZ) on Monday, the senior official said that Iran has prioritized a rapid increase in gas production from South Pars gas fields to provide the internal needs as well as the growth of outside demands. He underlined that many countries have requested to purchase gas from Iran and the outside demand for Iran’s gas is rising. Jahangiri went on to say that Iran is keen to add 100 million cubic meters to its current level of gas production by the end of the Iranian year. On Monday, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh announced that three more phases of the South Pars project will go on stream in the current Iranian year. Speaking to FNA in the Southern Assalouyeh city in Bushehr province and during a visit to phases 12, 17 and 18 phases, the oil minister said, "Phase 12 is one of the important and big phases of the South Pars and its completion is important." He underlined that the Iranian government is determined to complete the pending phases of the South Pars and will achieve part of this goal this year. The Iranian oil minister noted that the government has invested over $6.9 billion in Phase 12 and over $5.6 billion in Phases 17 and 18. Iran’s natural gas output currently stands at 500-550mln cubic meters per day, he said, and added phase 12 of the South Pars, when fully completed, will see domestic gas production rise by 15 percent (80mln cubic meters). Last month, Zanganeh underlined the need for the acceleration of work in Phase 12 of South Pars gas field. Zanganeh called on the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) to mobilize its forces for the operation of Phase 12 of the giant reservoir which Iran shares with Qatar. The minister told contractors during his recent visit to South Pars that gas production from the offshore section of Phase 12 must be prioritized. He said two desalting units in Phase 12 would come online in March 2014, adding that these units are of great importance for fuel supply in the winter. Zanganeh said Iran’s gas industry is bracing for its hardest ever year in terms of gas supply. “We have to make efforts to launch a section of this phase as soon as possible. Based on our plans, South Pars Refining Complex affiliated with NIGC can help Petropars Company which is operating the project,” he said. Zanganeh said contractors must always think that international sanctions on the oil industry are not being lifted. “Important petroleum industry projects must not be delayed due to waiting for the lifting of sanctions. The necessary commodities must be supplied in whatsoever manner and be installed in the project,” he added. Zanganeh said delayed development of South Pars has caused gas shortage even in the winter. “For example, during the first half of the current (calendar) year, we burnt 12 billion liters of fuel oil and gasoil in the country’s gas-fuelled power plants.” The South Pars gas field, divided into 28 phases, is located in the Persian Gulf on the common border between Iran and Qatar. The field is estimated to hold 14 trillion cubic meters of gas as well as 18 billion barrels of condensates. The field covers an area of 9,700 square kilometers, 3,700 square kilometers of which lie in Iran's territorial waters in the Persian Gulf. The remaining 6,000 square kilometers, better known as the North Dome, are located in Qatar's territorial waters.