Western oil experts believe that the European Union ban on Iranian oil to increase pressure on Tehran over its peaceful nuclear program may breathe new life into the country's ageing oil fields.

A report published by Reuters on Friday noted that if Iran is forced to shut in some 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil which it supplied EU customers, the move will help rejuvenate not harm the Islamic Republic's oil reservoirs.

The report quoted veteran geologists as saying that slowing Iran's current production of 3.5 million bpd would be the best thing for its overworked reserves and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) may indeed do that while it works to re-route the oil.

"Iran can shut in 10 to 20 percent of its production without damaging the reservoirs: in fact, it will do them some good," said Peter Wells of geological consultancy Neftex Petroleum.

He added that if done properly, shutting the oil fields will be beneficial as it allows the pressure to build back up.

The report claimed that Wells has first-hand knowledge of Iran's oil fields through his work with Lasmo Co., which is now part of the Italian Eni.

Wells further said he is confident that Iranian engineers would be up to the task, “because they have closed down parts of their fields before for routine maintenance.”

Other oil experts with companies that have tapped Iran's reserves agreed with Wells. For example Mehdi Varzi of the UK-based Varzi Energy says, "If pushed, Iran could shut in about 500,000 barrels a day without doing any harm."

After Washington imposed new sanctions on the Iranian oil sector on the New Year’s Eve, EU foreign ministers met in Belgium on January 23 to ban member states from importing the Iranian crude.

The United States, Israel and some of their allies accuse Tehran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear program, using this pretext to impose sanctions against Iran and threaten the country with military attack.

However, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has never found any evidence indicating that Tehran's civilian nuclear program has been diverted towards nuclear weapons production.
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