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Saturday, January 12, 2008
Oil Ministry ready to weather frost
TEHRAN (PIN) – Iran’s Interior Minister Mostafa Purmohammadi said that Oil Ministry was prepared to meet domestic household gas need during the new period of freezing weather.
The minister, who made the statement in his talks with reporters on the sidelines of a Natural Disaster Headquarters session, referred to the sharp drop in temperature and increase in fuel consumption across the country, saying domestic gas consumption on Wednesday showed a 115 million cubic meter growth from its corresponding day in the previous year.
He added some 460 million cubic meters of gas was produced and used in the country Thursday, revealing the great, praiseworthy efforts of Oil Minister and National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) officials.
Purmohammadi said over two percent of consumers now faced gas cut, adding some about 1.4 million end-users were suffering from constant disruption and cut at intervals.
The interior minister added 20 million cubic meters more would be required to cope with the supply cut.
He called on people to save energy in an attempt to pass through severe climatic conditions.
“Given the extreme cold weather across the country and more-than-expected consumption of natural gas, the use of gas in defiance of round the clock efforts of gas industrialists is at an alarming rate and the drop in gas pressure and cuts in some cities are real possibilities,” read an NIGC announcement.
“All gas consumers are asked to save gas as much as possible in a bid to help supply all fellow countrymen in the remotest areas of the country with the commodity,” it added.
Iran last Sunday awoke to heavy overnight snowfalls which forced schools to shut, blocked major roads, and led to the cancellation of domestic flights, state media reported.
Primary and secondary schools were closed for five days in Tehran and most cities in the north of the country.
The authorities ordered all government offices closed Sunday and Monday.
Tehran and several other cities in the north and center of Iran lie at altitudes of more than 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) above sea level and are regularly hit by heavy falls of snow in winter.
Cold weather has already created problems in Iran with around a dozen towns suffering gas cuts last week because of a surge in demand, a shortage compounded by a cut in exports from Turkmenistan.
Turkmenistan has halted daily deliveries of up to 23 million cubic meters to Iran since Dec. 31 because of ""technical problems"" and the need to undertake emergency repairs.
The incident has a feeling of deja vu. A year ago, Turkmen supplies were halted before an Iranian-Turkmen agreement was signed, stipulating that the price of Turkmen gas exports to Iran would increase and in exchange the volume of gas exported to Iran would double.
Iran can produce 440 million cu. m. of gas per day, with domestic consumption consisting of about 380 million cu. m., having increased from last year by 12 percent. Because of limitations on the production levels, around 20 million to 23 million cu. m. of gas were imported into Iran each day from Turkmenistan. Iran imports about 5 percent of its domestic needs from Turkmenistan via the $190 million, 125 mile Korpezhe-Kurt Kui pipeline, built in 1997. Korpezhe-Kurt Kui’s capacity is almost 300 billion cubic feet per year.
The unilateral Turkmen action has caused resentment in Tehran, with some Iranian media suggesting that the flow disruption might be linked to a pricing dispute.
""We have said that until the flow of gas from Turkmenistan resumes, we will not have any talks about a review on increasing the price of Turkmenistan’s natural gas,"" Iranian Oil Minster Gholamhossein Nozari said.
Turkmenistan’s ""pipeline politics"" had an immediate impact far beyond Iran. After the cutoff, Iran reduced its gas exports to Turkey by 75 percent, from 20 million to 5 million cu. m., as inclement weather hiked domestic demand and gas distribution to some Iranian cities was disrupted. Turkey is Iran’s sole export market for natural gas. In January 2006 Iran halved its supplies of natural gas to Turkey to around 7 million cubic feet per day, citing climactic conditions and increased domestic need, while in December 2006 it temporarily shut off supplies completely.
On Jan. 8, Iran stopped all natural gas exports to Turkey as worsening weather boosted domestic demand, forcing Ankara to use as much as a third of its stored fuel. The following day, Turkey halted the flow of Azeri gas to Greece because of the suspension of gas supplies from Iran. Adding to Turkish anxieties, Russia, Turkey’s other main supplier of natural gas, also reduced exports, citing severe weather.
Energy-poor Turkey imports almost all its natural gas from Russia and Iran, which powers half of its power generating stations. As Turkey’s economy has expanded, gas consumption has risen accordingly. This winter’s usage has soared to as much as 140 million cu m, a 17-percent increase over the previous year.
Iran’s supply of natural gas to Turkey would resume on Monday at the latest, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday after talking to Iranian officials.
Speaking to reporters in the capital Ankara, Erdogan said he had held talks with special representatives of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in a bid to resolve the gas supply problem.
""(The Iranian officials) said that they will solve the problem by Monday at the latest,"" Reuters quoted Erdogan as saying.
A senior Turkish Energy Ministry official told Reuters on Wednesday Turkey’s daily gas consumption had fallen to 124 million cubic meters (mcm) from 142 million as some gas-fired electricity producers switched to alternative fuel sources while others cut output.
On Wednesday the NIGC Managing Director Reza Kassaeizadeh, had promised supplies would be gradually increased.