BEIRUT- Iran's gas exports rose 64 percent in the first five months of the Iranian calendar year, from March until August, compared with the same period last year, a top official at the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) said on Tuesday.
Iran exported 50 million cubic metres of gas per day on average during the period, NIGC international affairs director Behzad Babazadeh said, according to SHANA, the news site of the Iranian oil ministry.
In the first 100 days of President Hassan Rouhani's second term in office, which began in the first week of August, Iran exported some 3.65 billion cubic metres of gas, Babazadeh said.
Gas exports to Iraq have doubled in the past 100 days from seven million cubic metres per day to 14 million, he said.
The two members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries signed a deal in 2013 for Iran to supply Iraqi power stations, but officials have blamed poor security in Iraq for hampering its implementation.
Iran signed two contracts to export gas, one for the capital Baghdad and the other for southern city of Basra, Iranian state media reported in June.
Iran, which has huge gas reserves alongside its oil resources, exports small amounts of gas to Turkey but production has struggled to keep pace with rising domestic consumption.
Experts say years of Western sanctions over Iran's disputed nuclear programme have also hindered development of gas projects. Some sanctions have been lifted since a nuclear deal was reached with Western powers.
Separately, Karim Zobeidi, the director of integrated planning at the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) said that 715 million barrels of oil have so far been extracted from the West Karoun field in southwest Iran, according to SHANA.
The field has reserves of 87 billion barrels, Zobeidi said.
(Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh, editing by David Evans) ((firstname.lastname@example.org;))