Iran says gas exports to Pakistan unlikely

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-10-31 9:50:06

Iran is not hopeful about exporting its natural gas to the neighboring state of Pakistan, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said on Wednesday.

Talking to reporters, Zanganeh said "For the time being, we are not hopeful for gas export to Pakistan, because the conditions set by the Pakistani government has made export of Iranian gas to Pakistan unlikely," official IRNA news agency reported.

Earlier reports said that Iran's southeastern neighbor has asked the Islamic republic to finance on the gas pipeline to be built on Pakistan soil.

The local reports said Pakistan has asked Iran for financing of 2 billion US dollars to construct 780-kilometer gas pipeline on its soil.

However, Iran has not responded to the demand by its neighbor. Iran has already built its share of pipeline to its border with Pakistan on its soil.

In March, Iran's former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari inaugurated the 7.5-billion- dollar project in Iran's southeastern city of Chabahar which was supposed to link Iran's gas pipeline to that of Pakistan.

The United States has threatened sanctions against Pakistan if the South Asian nation presses ahead with the gas pipeline project with its western neighbor.

Iran possesses the second largest gas reserves in the world after Russia but its gas project developments and exports have been seriously hit by the western sanctions in the past years due to its insistence on maintaining its controversial nuclear program.

On Wednesday, Zanganeh said that Iran plans to export natural gas to Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, according to IRNA.

He told reporters on the sidelines of a gas seminar that Iran will sign the second contract for gas exports to Iraq.

Plans are also underway to sign contracts for gas exports to Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), he was quoted as saying.

Iraqi deputy prime minister for energy Hussain al-Shahristani said his country plans to finalize a new contract with Iran on the import of natural gas, Press TV reported.

According to an agreement signed with Iraq in July, Iran is to deliver 25 million cubic meters of gas to Iraqi power plants in Sadr, Baghdad and al-Mansouryah through a 270-kilometer pipeline, which is estimated to earn Iran 3.7 billion US dollars a year in revenue.

In August, Oman held talks with Iran to start importing Iran's natural gas in two years for a 25-year period with the total value of 60 billion US dollars based current prices.

Zanganeh and his Omani counterpart Mohammed bin Hamad Al Rumhy also signed an agreement in Tehran on the construction of a sea- bed gas pipeline.

"The gas transfer deal with Oman is the largest economic agreement between the two countries so far," the Iranian oil minister said, adding that the deal would open a new era in further expansion of friendly bilateral relations.

Iran and Oman signed a deal in 2009 to jointly develop an underwater 200-km gas pipeline.

In 2011, National Iranian Gas Export Company announced that Iran had reached agreements with India and Oman to transfer Iranian gas to India via Oman through underwater pipelines.

However, the implementation of agreements has been delayed for unannounced reasons.

Iran's oil and gas buyers, as well as the international gas companies for exploration and development projects, are under pressure from the United States and its western allies to reduce their deals and cooperations with the Islamic republic.

Iran's energy and financial sectors are under intensive pressure from the West, which suspects that Iran's nuclear program aims at weapon-grade activities, while Iran insists that it is only for civilian use.

Under the new adminstration which has called for improving relations with the West, Iran struggles to reach oil and gas giants to negotiate on new cooperation in an attempt to regain its lost share in the global energy market.

However, Zanganeh said on Wednesday that no specific proposal has yet been offered by the foreign companies for development of the natural gas fields in Iran, according to IRNA.

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