Iran President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday announced that the country has discovered a new oil field in the southwest region of Khuzestan province that has the potential to boost its reserves by about a third, BBC reported.

The discovery comes at a time when Iran has suffered economically under a series of United States’ sanctions aimed to limit its nuclear program.

“We have found an oil field with 53 billion barrels of oil in place,” Rouhani said in a televised speech in the central city of Yazd. “This is in a big oil field that stretches 2,400 sq km from Bostan to Omidiyeh. The oil layer has a depth of 80m.”

“I am telling the White House that in the days when you sanctioned the sale of Iranian oil, the country’s workers and engineers were able to discover 53 billion barrels of oil,” Rouhani said, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

The new oil field could reportedly become Iran’s second-largest field, following the one containing 65 billion barrels in Ahvaz city.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, Iran ranks as the world’s fourth-largest reserve holder of oil, and the second-largest holder of gas reserves. It added that Iran had an estimated 157 billion barrels of proved crude oil reserves in January 2018.

After withdrawing from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, the US re-imposed sanctions to limit its vital oil trade.

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