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Iran's great opening

Iran's risks lie above the ground. Below it, a wealth of opportunity awaits careful investors

Iran's oil and gas upstream is a veritable Aladdin's cave of treasures. Like all fairy tales, of course, it comes with villains, both inside and out, and like many oil-rich peers, it has fallen well short of realising its potential. On official figures, Iran has the world's largest gas reserves, 1,183 trillion cubic feet, and, at 158.4bn barrels, the second-largest conventional oil reserves behind only Saudi Arabia (even if Canada's and Venezuela's extra-heavy oil takes them ahead). Even if these figures, particularly the oil, are somewhat exaggerated, they suggest Iran could be the largest holder of hydrocarbons on the planet. But production, though large, is not commensurate with reserve

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