Iran says it has removed an old plan to export natural gas to Europe and is instead focusing on exports to its neighbors as well as India.
Amirhossein Zamaninia, Iran’s deputy minister of petroleum for trade and international affairs, said Europe’s gas market was already saturated with excessive supplies and had thus lost its priority in Iran’s gas export plans.
“Iran’s key priority should be exports to the neighboring states as well as India,” Zamaninia told Iran’s IRNA news agency.
He further emphasized that the landmark nuclear agreement that Iran had sealed with the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany in 2015 and the subsequent removal of sanctions against the Islamic Republic had already provided an appropriate opportunity to pursue plans to export natural gas to the neighboring states.
Iran had for years pursued plans to export natural gas to Europe. A tentative scheme that was developed in cooperation with Nabucco - a consortium led by Austria’s OMV – envisaged piping Iranian natural gas from the southern energy hub of Assaluyeh to Turkey and thereon to Europe. However, Nabucco eventually abandoned Iran in 2008 after complications grew the most important of which were US-engineered sanctions against the Iranian energy sector.
A parallel plan to export Iranian gas to Europe – again through Turkey – has been pursued by Switzerland’s EGL, also known as Elektrizitaetsgesellschaft Laufenburg,
Based on the EGL scheme, the Iranian natural gas would be taken to Greece and Albania through Turkey. It would thereon flow to Italy through a pipeline under the Adriatic Sea before reaching Switzerland. However, this scheme had a fate similar to that of Nabucco.
Over the past few years, Iran had been pursuing exporting natural gas to Kuwait, Oman and Iraq.
In late June, the country started exporting gas to Iraq by virtue an agreement that was signed in 2013.
Talks over exports to Kuwait and Oman have been presently stalled over technical issues.
An ambitious project to pipe gas to India through Pakistan - that had been in the offing for almost two decades but delayed for disputes over pricing and the related technicalities - has also been recently revived.
Iran is further exporting about 30 million cubic meters of gas to Turkey which before Iraq was its only export destination since 2001.