Iran to expand gas exports to Asia, Europe: spokesman

February 5, 2008

TEHRAN (PIN) – The National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) spokesman said the country was currently exporting gas to Turkey and planned to expand it to Pakistan, India, China, Oman, Qatar, Iraq, Afghanistan, Armenia, and Europe.

Ebadollah Qambari added, “We are holding talks on gas exports to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar and the 7th cross-country gas pipeline is under construction to facilitate the signing of trilateral Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) contract in the near future.”
The Iranian Offshore Oil Company (IOOC) Managing Director Mahmud Zirakchianzadeh had already told PIN if Iran and the UAE reached an agreement, his country would for the first time export over 540 million cubic feet of gas per day to an Islamic neighboring state.
He also said Iran and Oman would finalize talks on the development of Kish and Hengam gas fields and gas exports in the near future.
“Oman’s officials have offered good proposals on the development of Kish gas field and exports of Iran’s gas and we are studying them,” said the IOOC head, adding bilateral negotiations were expected to be finalized soon.
The Deputy Oil Minister Ali Kordan said Iran had the capacity to meet a major part of Asian and European markets’ natural gas need and was prepared to export the commodity to Bahrain, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates.
Qambari expressed the country’s preparedness to export gas to China through the 7th pipeline linking the lines in Pakistan and India after the suppliers became ready.
The NIGC official said Ilam Refinery in western Iran was ready for production and could supply Iraq with gas if the neighboring state was willing to use it.
Qambari, the NIGC Public Relations Dept. manager, added, “According to the signed contracts, Iran’s gas would be transferred to Syria via the Turkish territories.”
Iran’s Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari and his Syrian counterpart have signed an agreement on export of 2-3 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Syria via Turkey per annum up to 2009.
Qambari said South Pars field would pump a bigger volume of gas to Turkey through the 9th nationwide pipelines extending from the south to the northwest.
The National Iranian Gas Export Co. Managing Director Nosratollah Seifi said the NIGEC had held talks with Italian officials and the two parties would soon sign a memorandum on export of Iran’s gas to the European state.
Talking about the gas transmission route, the NIGEC head added the commodity would pass through Turkey and Greece before reaching the Italian territory.
Iran is now producing about 460 million cubic meters of gas per day.
Iran’s estimated gas reserves, the world’s second-largest after Russia, amount to 971.150 TCF (more than 26 TCM). The country is in urgent need of developing its gas fields both to cover domestic consumption and fulfill its gas export plans for Europe and Eastern Asia.
------------------------------------- EU needs Iran’s gas
Yet, Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Hilmi Guler said, “Transferring Iran’s gas to Europe through Turkey is a finalized business deal.”
“The EU needs Iran’s natural gas, and Turkey needs the money it can gain from buying and selling this product,” the Turkish daily ‘Yeni Shafaq’ quoted him as saying.
The daily that is close to the Turkish government in an article titled “This U.S. Law Is Not Valid in Turkey”, wrote, “Despite the strict sanctions for firms investing in energy fields in Iran in accordance with this ratification of the U.S. House of Representatives, Turkey seems to be determined to continue, and even boost its cooperation with Iran in energy field.”
Turkey has said the Iranian and Turkmen gas could be used for the planned 4.6 billion euro ($6.3 billion) Nabucco project, which would carry gas across Turkey and the Balkans to central Europe and was backed by the European Union.
Turkey will make a $3.5 billion investment in a gas project in Iran despite U.S. attempts to discourage doing business with Tehran.
Senior officials with the Turkish Energy Ministry, who declined to be named, told Reuters that the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) would start investing in Iran’s South Pars gas field project as soon as a comprehensive agreement was signed in the second half of October.
Washington is urging countries to cut business ties with Iran in a bid to pressurize the country over its nuclear activities. Iran says its nuclear program is aimed at peaceful purposes, and the UN nuclear watchdog has confirmed the country’s non-deviation from civilian programs.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has defended his government’s deal with Iran, saying no country can ask Ankara to give up the relationships it has with energy suppliers.
Turkish Energy Ministry sources told Reuters TPAO was also interested in investing in Iran’s oil sector after the October agreement was signed.