Iran is drawing up plans to attract up to $145 billion in investments for its hydrocarbon sector over the next eight years, Oil Minister Javad Owji has said.

Owji on Tuesday said that Iran plans to invest $145 billion in the development of the “upstream and downstream oil industry over the next four to eight years”, with the country aiming to involve a mix of domestic and international investors.

The comments made by the recently appointed minister followed his meeting in Tehran with senior officials from China’s Sinopec, local media reports claimed.

However, Owji did not elaborate on the projects likely to be taken up as a part of the future investment plan.

Iran is looking to bolster its relationships with Chinese companies and increasing their presence in its domestic oil and gas industry.

Despite the US sanctions on Iran, China is among the few nations that are importing crude oil from the country.

Iran’s oil exports have dipped under US sanctions that were reimposed three years ago after former president Donald Trump abandoned Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with leading world powers.

Increase exports

Owji recently said Iran is determined to increase its oil exports despite the US sanctions, and warned that the use of such sanctions as a “political tool” could harm the market.

“There is a strong will in Iran to increase oil exports despite the unjust and illegal US sanctions... I promise that good things will happen regarding Iran’s oil sales in the coming months,” he was quoted by local media.

Iran and the leading world powers have been in talks since earlier this year to revive the nuclear pact and have held several rounds of negotiations, which are yet to be conclusive.

Iran remains hopeful that it would be able to reinstate its oil production to pre-sanctions levels once the sanctions are lifted by the US.