Turkmenistan Seeking to Double Price of Gas Supplies to Iran

A03691036.jpgTEHRAN (FNA) Turkmenistan wants to raise the price of natural gas it sells to Iran while Tehran argues the two countries agreed not to change it in a contract signed last year, a senior Iranian official said.

Iranian officials this week said Turkmenistan had halted daily deliveries to Iran of up to 23 million cubic meters of gas, blaming the disruption on technical problems.

Iran, a small net importer despite its huge gas reserves, gets about 5 percent of its needs from its northern neighbor and the supply disruption has caused shortages in some areas as well as a reduction in Iran’s gas exports to Turkey.

“They (Turkmenistan) believe that, as they increased the price of gas they export to Russia, they should raise the price of gas they export to Iran,” Reza Kasaizadeh, who heads the state gas company, was quoted as saying by the ISNA on Wednesday.

“But the signed contract between the two countries is important to us and one should act based on that,” he said.

Kasaizadeh said he had based his comments on information from Iran’s foreign minister, following a visit by an Iranian delegation to Turkmenistan’s capital last week.

Kasaizadeh said Turkmenistan had cited emergency repairs as the main reason for stopping gas deliveries.

Turkmenistan’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday that it was a temporary measure needed while essential maintenance work was carried out on the pipeline.

But Kasaizadeh also said the two sides had discussed the price of gas at last week’s meeting in Ashgabat. Discussions had been due to continue in Tehran this week but have been delayed after the Turkmen supply cut, he said.

He said that attached to a contract signed last year to increase the gas price was an agreement “that it was supposed that during the next three years we wouldn’t have any rise in the price of gas we import from Turkmenistan.”

In November, Turkmenistan reached an agreement to increase the price on gas it delivers to Russia’s gas export monopoly Gazprom by 30 percent.

Kasaizadeh earlier told state radio that Iran had eased the gas shortages in its north by bringing in gas from southern fields.

In the past few days people in the northern provinces of Semnan, Mazandaran and Golestan had to wait in long queues for alternative fuel to heat their homes and cook food.

“Fortunately we were able to provide the gas needed for northern provinces … through gas delivered from Assalouyeh,” he said, referring to a southern port town in an area where many of Iran’s gas fields are located.

Despite sitting on the world’s second largest gas reserves after Russia, analysts say Iran has been slow to develop the sector due to sanctions and construction delays.

Yet, Iran is now developing oil and gas infrastructures at a high speed now.

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