TEHRAN Jan 13 (Reuters) - Oil production from Iran's Darkhovin field has been doubled to 100,000 barrels per day (bpd), an Iranian official said on Sunday, referring to part of a plan to hike output from OPEC's second biggest producer.
Darkhovin, a field in southwest Iran near the Iraqi border, is being developed by Italy's oil and gas group Eni (ENI.MI) with Iran's Arvandan Oil and Gas Company, a subsidiary of the state's National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).
Eni signed a $550 million deal with Iran's state oil company in 2001 to develop the field. It brought the first phase on line in 2005 and is now active in the second phase.
Salbali Karami, managing director of Arvandan, was quoted by the Iranian state broadcaster's Web site as saying output from Darkovin oil field had risen from 50,000 bpd to 100,000 bpd.
"It is expected that after the second stage of development of this field, production is expected to reach 160,000 bpd," he added.
Karami said last year production from the field was running at 50,000 bpd and would rise to 100,000 bpd in January, climbing to 160,000 bpd in August-September 2008.
The Oil Ministry said last September it planned to start talks with Eni to carry out another phase of the project that would add a further 100,000 bpd to the field's output.
Increasing output at Darkhovin is part of Iran's effort to hike production to 4.5 million bpd by 2010. An Iranian official was quoted earlier this month as saying Iran would hit that target earlier than expected but did not say when.
Analysts say Iran needs more investment and expertise from foreign firms if it is to sharply boost capacity
Many foreign firms, particularly from Western countries, are wary of investing because of Iran's nuclear row with the West. But Chinese and other Asian firms have shown increased interest. (Reporting by Hossein Jaseb, writing by Edmund Blair)