Iran will pump more than $500 million into oil and natural gas projects during 2018, the country’s top oil official said on Friday, as the government tries to shore up its finances ahead of elections later this year.
The Iranian National Oil Company said in a statement that it will invest $5.8 billion in energy projects, including $2.8 million in a planned $4 billion refinery in Qom, a major city in the west of the country.
It is the second year in a row the Iranian central bank has announced the investment in the countrys oil industry, which has been the target of an economic blockade since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The ban has crippled oil production, left tens of thousands of people without work, and driven up the cost of fuel, leading to shortages.
In February, Iran agreed to reopen its oil pipeline with a consortium of international companies, which will be led by French company Total.
Iran has been trying to attract foreign investment as the country prepares to host a second round of presidential and parliamentary elections this year, which it hopes will help secure its long-term economic future.
Since the 1979 revolution, Iran has relied heavily on foreign financing to help finance its oil and energy industry.
The country’s government has struggled to get finance from international lenders, which have imposed sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.