The National Iranian Oil Co. will spend more than a year examining the potential for shale oil and gas reserves along Iran's border with Iraq, an official said. Hormuz Qalavand, exploration director at NIOC, said the company would use seismic technology in the project. NIOC signed a $49.8 million deal with an unnamed private company to conduct the seismic surveys. Shana, the Iranian Oil Ministry's official website, reported Sunday it would take about 14 months to complete the work. No information about the reserve potential was published by Shana. Iran is working to stimulate an oil and natural gas sector handicapped by Western economic sanctions designed to deprive the country of revenue it could use to finance a controversial nuclear sector.