Hassan Rouhani & Vladimir Putin

Regional goals in Iran-Russia energy partnership

Press TV – Reports by Iran’s media over the agreements that the country signed with Russia during the visit to Tehran by President Vladimir Putin show that the two countries are set to push ahead a strategic partnership in the area of energy with goals that go beyond their borders.

Iran’s Fars News Agency reported that the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) had signed at least four agreements with Russian giants Gazprom and Rosneft – two with each – over certain oil and gas projects.

No details on what was exactly agreed on emerged in the media.

Nevertheless, a key target that at least one of the agreements appeared to have involved was the development of a pipeline by Russia to export natural gas from Iran to Pakistan and India.

Pakistan’s Express Tribune newspaper in a recent report said Russia was studying a plan to export natural gas to Pakistan and India through Iran in an ambitious project that would involve laying an offshore pipeline.

It quoted an unnamed senior Russian official as saying that the pipeline would be projected to pass through Pakistan’s Gwadar Port. However, the technicalities of the project – including where the gas would be supplied and under what commercial conditions – were not specified.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Energy Minister Novak was quoted by Fars as saying that Gazprom would be involved in the project.

Novak added that “preparing the related documents of the project” would finish within the next two months and that operations to construct the pipeline would begin next year.

Novak also added that Iran, Pakistan and India would be involved in the construction of the pipeline, as well.

Fars also quoted Amir Hossein Zamaninia, Iran’s deputy petroleum minister for trade and international affairs, as saying that what NIOC agreed on with Rosneft was “something more than an agreement”.

Zamaninia did not elaborate on the deals but emphasized that one of the agreements concerned the issue of confidentiality.

Iran had been negotiating with Pakistan for over a decade to export natural gas to Pakistan and thereon India through an onshore pipeline.  India eventually withdrew from the project in a move seen as a result of US pressures. Also, talks with Pakistan failed to bear fruits over disputes on pricing and other related technicalities.