Iran in ‘serious’ gas talks with Arab states

Iran has held “serious” talks with the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman for sales of natural gas, an energy official says, adding exports to neighboring Iraq will begin soon. 

“We are laying the necessary groundwork for gas exports to these countries,” Managing Director of the National Iranian Gas Exports Company (NIGEC) Ali Reza Kameli said on Saturday.

The oil-rich Persian Gulf Arab states have no significant gas reserves with the exception of Qatar and Iraq. Qatar has developed the world’s biggest LNG export business and has little gas left to pipe to its neighbors. In Iraq, meanwhile, first major gas production is not expected to come through before 2020.

The last section of a pipeline to carry Iran’s gas to Iraq is being tested for the start of exports, officials have said. The pipeline will carry the gas to power plants in Najaf as well as Sadr City in Baghdad and al-Mansuriya south of the Iraqi capital.

A separate pipeline is being laid for sending Iran’s gas to Basra in southern Iraq to a combined cycle power plant which the Islamic Republic is building at a cost of $2.5 billion.

Last month, an Omani delegation was in Tehran for the finalization of the operational plan for transfer of the Iranian gas to the sultanate via a pipeline across the Persian Gulf.

The $60 billion deal was concluded during President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Muscat in 2013 to ship 10 million cubic meters per day of the Iranian gas to Oman for a period of 15 years.

Assaluyeh is home to Iran’s biggest gas development plans.

For gas exports to the UAE, serious negotiations are underway for pumping gas from Iran’s Salman field, Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh said earlier this week. The project has been mired for years in a dispute between UAE-based Crescent Petroleum and the National Iranian Oil Company over pricing.

Kameli said Iran’s neighbors are the top priority for gas exports. Sitting on 34 trillion cubic meters of natural gas reserves, or around 18% of the world’s total, Iran is on course to become one of the world’s top gas producers.

The country ramped up gas production nearly 70% to around 173 billion cubic meters between 2005 and 2014. Much of the produced gas, however, is used at home where demand is rising exponentially.

Iran currently exports about 9 billion cubic meters to Turkey and also swaps gas with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan and with Armenia for electricity.

By Press TV