The state-run firm’s corporate planning manager, Abdul-Mohammad Delparish, told Iran’s official news agency Shana, that NIOC invested $8bn in the state’s oil sector in 2007.

Delparish said he expects at least the same level of investment to be made this year, with the development of joint oil fields receiving priority.

He added that phases 6-10 of the giant South Pars gas field would be launched this year. Work will also start on block 26 of the Caspian Sea development as part of an agreement with Brazil’s Petrobras.