Tehran, Baku mulling joint gas exports

Iran says it is discussing joint exports of natural gas to international markets with Azerbaijan in a sign that Tehran may have already revived plans to pipe gas to Europe.    

Alireza Kameli, the managing director of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), says his company has already started serious talks to the same effect with the Azeri state oil company SOCAR.

“Tehran and Baku have conducted negotiations over joint investments in gas export projects,” Kameli has been quoted by Iran’s media as saying.

“This is simultaneous with Iran’s plans to expedite natural gas production over the next three years,” he has been quoted as saying by the Persian-language newspaper Iran.

Iran’s huge natural gas reserves had for years made it a prime source for supplying future exports to Europe.

Accordingly, separate discussions were started with the country by a consortium named Nabucco as well as the Swiss EGL. However, the complications that later emerged – specifically the US-engineered sanctions – made both sideline Iran from their plans to pipe gas to Europe.

The prospects that sanctions could be eventually removed in light of the recent diplomatic progress over the Iranian nuclear energy program once again put Iran in focus.

Nevertheless, a more serious plan now appears to involve Azerbaijan.

Mustafayev told Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh during his visit to Tehran last Tuesday that Iran can use Azerbaijan’s infrastructure to export oil and gas to world markets.

“Iran can use Azerbaijan’s infrastructure, especially the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline to export its oil,” Mustafayev noted, adding that Iran can also join the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) project in the future.

TANAP is projected to pump gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz 2 field in the Caspian Sea to Turkey and from there to Europe for a length of 1,850 kilometers.

Construction over the pipeline began in March and is expected to finish in 2018.

Earlier in June, Azerbaijan’s Energy Minister Natig Aliyev had also said Iran can join TANAP to export its gas to Europe.

“Iran is a country with a great potential in the region. If the process continues, Iran could join TANAP and export its gas to Europe,” Aliyev added.

Iranian officials had previously said exporting gas to Europe is not a priority at the current juncture.

“Given the gas price decline in Europe, the economic viability of the project has probably decreased. Besides, the market share of single shipments and LNG has grown,” said Rokneddin Javadi, the managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).

However, Iran’s Ambassador Mohsen Pak-A’een told Trend news agency in response to Aliyev’s invitation that Tehran will study the available opportunities to join the TANAP scheme.

By Press TV