Turkey, Iran agree to carry gas to Europe

Iran and Turkey have signed a preliminary agreement to pump Iranian gas to Europe via Turkey, a move that will open a new export market for Iran’s massive reserves.

The memorandum of understanding was signed away from public eye in Ankara after talks between Guler and Iranian Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh.

“We discussed some requests from Iran in return to their demand to export natural gas to European Union countries (via Turkey)… As a result, we agreed on carrying Turkmen gas via Iran to Turkey and then to Europe,” Guler said in the northeastern city of Ordu.

Iranian Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh said yesterday the memorandum of understanding (MoU) included an agreement to pump gas from Turkmenistan to Turkey via Iran and Tehran’s approval for Ankara to develop three phases of
Iran’s South Pars gas field. Iran, with the world’s biggest gas reserves after Russia, has been considering Ukraine and Turkey as possible routes to get its gas to Europe.

“Details will be studied next month when Turkey’s energy minister visits and in four to six month the necessary agreements will be signed,” Vaziri-Hamaneh said, adding that the phases would be developed under so-called “buy back” terms.

Iran also agreed to let Turkey develop several natural gas fields in Iran, he said, without elaborating.

The proposed $6.3 billion Nabucco pipeline project that will cross Turkey is backed by the EU partly as a means to diversify away from reliance on Russia by gaining access to Central Asian gas. The pipeline, running across Turkey to Hungary and Austria through the eastern Balkans, will eventually be able
to carry 31 billion cubic meters a year of gas from producers in Central Asia to big consuming countries in Europe. Vaziri-Hamaneh said experts from the two neighbors will work on the project’s details in one month to finalize the deal.

Details of the preliminary agreement with Iran will be announced in a month’s time, the official said, adding that the timing of when the gas would start flowing had yet to be settled. “But it is agreed that Iran will pump 30 bcm gas to Turkey per year which might include Turkmen gas,” he said.

Turkey already buys gas via a conduit from the northwestern Iranian city of Tabriz to Ankara, which was inaugurated in December 2001 even though the deal was frowned upon in the United States, Turkey’s long-standing NATO ally
and Iran’s arch-foe.

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