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Iran to import 30 mcm of Turkmen gas daily

Iran will import around 30 million cubic meters of gas per day from Turkmenistan and the two neighbors will study a possible further increase in the future, a senior Iranian official was quoted as saying.

Reza Kasaizadeh, head of the National Iranian Gas Company, said the size of the imports was part of an April 25 agreement under which Turkmenistan agreed to resume natural gas exports to Iran that were cut off late last year. During the negotiations, Iran agreed to pay a higher price for the imported gas, but officials have declined to give details.

Central Asia’s top gas exporter halted daily deliveries of up to 23 million cubic meters to Iran in late December, citing technical issues. Iran has said the aim was to raise the gas price and criticized Turkmenistan as an unreliable supplier. But with last month’s agreement, the two sides ended months of wrangling over prices that has soured bilateral relations. “In the negotiation which were carried out on April 25, the gas purchase price formula from Turkmenistan for 2008 was finalized and signed by the two parties,” Kasaizadeh was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency. He said they also agreed to create a working group to examine “the necessary ways to raise the volume of the gas exchanged between the two countries.” Kasaizadeh added this group would also “finalize the study in regard to the price formula in the gas import contract from 2009. Turkmenistan is after selling gas at international rates beginning 2009.”

Turkmenistan, which exports most of its gas via Russia’s Gazprom, teamed up with neighboring Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in March to start charging Russia higher prices for their gas from next year. Its decision to stop supplies to Iran at the height of a record-cold winter angered Tehran, which described the move as “immoral.” The impact of the row was felt in other countries too, as Iran cut exports to Turkey, which in turn cut supplies to Greece. Iran sits on the world’s second-largest gas reserves but has been slow to develop exports, partly because of US sanctions. It has imported gas from Turkmenistan which mainly helps supply an area in northern Iran far from the Iranian main national grid. (Reuters)