Iran says piping gas to Europe not its priority

Iran said on Saturday that exports of natural gas to Europe is not among its priorities. The announcement has already chilled expectations that the country would soon emerge as a key supplier for the continent. 

Iran’s Petroleum Minister Bijan Zangeneh said the priority for Iran at the current juncture is to export gas to Asia.

Zangeneh – who is now in a visit to Germany to discuss energy issues – said gas prices are too low in Europe, adding that transporting gas there from Iran faces legal obstacles and costly fees.

He further said another option for Iran’s gas – liquefying it and exporting by ship – had been set back by sanctions, which prevented western technology from reaching his country.

Liquefied natural gas is the most suitable option to sell gas to Europe, he said, but that option won’t be available for another three years, Zangeneh has been quoted as saying by the Wall Street Journal.

Zangeneh’s remarks fly in the face of recent media speculations that Europe expects Iran to become a key supplier of the crucial fuel.

Earlier, reports said Bulgarian top officials have started diplomatic talks with Iran to encourage the country to return to the Nabucco project – a huge pipeline plan envisaged to take natural gas from the Caspian region and elsewhere in the Middle East to Europe.

Other reports said Switzerland may be soon looking into the possibility of importing Iranian gas for consumption domestically and across Europe – a project that the country’s EGL is specifically interested in.

There has even been an announcement in Turkmenistan’s capital Ashkhabad by a senior EU energy official that Iran is now being considered as part of a crucial project – named the Southern Gas Corridor – to pipe gas from the Caspian region to Europe.

Iran’s proven reserves of natural gas stand at 33.6 trillion cubic meters (about 18% of global reserves), making the country one of the top two countries together with Russia with regard to conventional gas reserves.

Iran is the leading producer of natural gas in the Middle East and third in the world after the United States and Russia.

However, many analysts believe that the country has not been able to fully exploit the potentials in the gas sector due to a series of factors the most important of which include the US-engineered sanctions, mismanagement and wasteful domestic energy consumption.

The National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) said in April that Iran will not have enough gas to provide the houses in the near future if no measure is taken to contain the current pace of “wasteful consumption” of the crucial fuel.

By Press TV