NIGC Preparing for Unusually Cold Winter

NIGC Preparing for Unusually Cold WinterNIGC Preparing for Unusually Cold Winter

The National Iranian Gas Company is making preparations for a steady supply of natural gas nationwide over the next few months, as officials and weather forecasts anticipate an extraordinarily cold winter.

"We have considered everything to maintain the supply of natural gas in winter," NIGC Managing Director Hamidreza Araqi said on the sidelines of the Iranian Petroleum and Energy Club Congress and Exhibition in Tehran, Shana reported.

He attributed the climate change to El Nino, a phenomenon characterized by unusually warm ocean conditions across the Pacific Ocean, which considerably impacts the weather conditions and economies across the world.

Araqi said the government is committed to delivering 85-90 million cubic meters of gas per day to power plants in winter.

The steady supply of natural gas as feedstock to power plants will translate into sustainable electricity production, a particularly important feat in the cold season due to rising demand for electricity to power electric heating equipment.

Replacing gas as feedstock would also help curb air pollution and slash the consumption of more polluting fuels such as diesel and mazut, making room for the export of these fuels.

El Nino, which causes changes to air currents, can have all sorts of effects on weather; from bringing drought in African countries such as Zimbabwe and South Africa to heavy rains and flooding in many regions of the Americas to severe weather conditions around the Asia-Pacific region.

The Middle East has been largely spared from this natural event. However, this year's El Nino–shaping up to be the strongest since records began in 1950—has Iranian energy officials bracing for freezing weather and making arrangements to prevent a national gas shortage.

  Warning Letter

In a letter recently circulated on social media and alleged to be written by Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian to his deputy, Houshang Falahatian, the former calls for ensuring a steady gas supply to power plants and raising power production to meet the country's increasing demand for producing heat via electricity.

The letter also warns of ferocious winter storms similar to the one that grappled the country in the winter of 2007.

The authenticity of the letter, dated September 1, could not be independently verified and government officials have not made any comment on the subject. However, it seems to be a genuine letter that was leaked to the media.

South Pars Gas Field in the Persian Gulf region supplies more than 50% of the country's total gas output, but the volume is only expected to rise to 75% next year once seven high-priority phases of the field are complete.

Gas Supply to Households

"One million households will join the national gas network by March 2016," Araqi said.

According to officials, gas delivery to a total of 3,800 small towns and villages across Iran is underway and 5,200 more villages are in line to receive gas in the near future.

The NIGC chief said Iran will maintain gas import from Turkmenistan in winter, but described it as a "strategic move" that the Islamic Republic pursues in natural gas export to its neighbors.

Iran's gas import from Turkmenistan stands at around 30 mcm/d, or 8-9 billion cubic meters a year.

Araqi noted that the Persian Gulf country, which has the capacity of exporting 300 mcm/d of gas, is also planning to raise gas supply to Turkey and Iraq to 80 mcm/d.