Potential Routes for Gas Export to Europe
Laying a gas transfer pipeline through Caspian Sea is not economically viable, said the director of international affairs at the National Iranian Gas Company, proposing potential routes on which a pipeline to Europe could be constructed.
Some European states are considering alternatives to receive Turkmenistan's gas through Caspian Sea, however, this is not a viable option for Iran, Azizollah Ramezani was quoted by IRNA as saying on Saturday.
Gas from Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan could pass through Iran, Turkey, and then to Europe, "This is the most economically feasible route to transfer gas to Europe," Ramezani asserted.
A proposal on gas exports to Europe was put forward, and is currently under assessment. There is an outstanding potential to export gas from the Caspian region to Europe, which would also help Europe diversify its energy supplies, the NIGC official noted.
Political considerations have restrained European states from thrashing out the possibility of gas imports from Iran. However, European parliaments are pondering the matter.
If an agreement is reached, extensive infrastructure would be needed, although not in the short run. To export small volumes of gas to Europe, the existing infrastructure can be utilized. But a new pipeline would be imperative if a large amount of gas is to be exported.
Apart from Turkey, other routes could be brought into play to export gas to Europe. It can be transferred through Azerbaijan, Georgia, and eventually the Black Sea, considering the fact that the two former Soviet states have repeatedly expressed readiness to do so.
According to estimations, Iran can export between 25 to 30 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per annum to Europe. It is also projected that the country's daily gas production will reach 1 bcm by March 2018.
Iran's import and export of gas in 2014 are estimated at six and 10 bcm, respectively. It is currently exporting gas to Turkey, while export to Iraq is due in May. Preliminary agreements have also been reached for export of gas to Oman, Kuwaut, and UAE.
Gas export to Europe is a long-sought project. A decade ago - during the government of former president Mohammad Khatami, negotiations to implement the project were initiated with the UK, France, and Germany.
"There are three main routes to export gas to Europe: Turkey, Iraq-Syria-Lebanon, and Armenia-Georgia, among which Turkey is the most feasible one," former deputy oil minister Ali Majedi, had said earlier. Iran could export gas in the form of LNG, thanks to its proximity to the international sea lanes.
Iran holds the world’s second biggest natural gas reserves after Russia, and the fourth-largest proven crude oil reserves. It holds 17 percent of the world's proven natural gas reserves and more than one-third of OPEC's reserves.