Iran considers Azerbaijan suitable route for gas transportation

By Aynur Karimova

Energy-rich Azerbaijan is considered by Tehran as a suitable route for the transit of Iran's massive natural gas resources to European consumers.

Recently, Iranian Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani said at a meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ogtay Asadov in New York that cooperation between Tehran and Baku can be developed further in the fields of oil and gas, Iran’s embassy to Baku told Trend on September 3.

Iran, which holds 33.8 trillion cubic meters of proven natural gas reserves – or 18.2 percent of the world’s total proven reserves – has pursued multiple projects for years to pipe natural gas to Europe.

However, the country was sidelined from the scheme in 2008 due to a series of complications that emerged – the most important of which were international sanctions that banned foreign investments in Iran’s energy sector.

Even during the period of sanctions, Iran wasn't hiding its intention to sell gas to European markets. And now the anticipated lifting of sanctions and the resumption of relations with the West will increase chances for Iranian gas to reach those markets.

Iran’s geographical location makes it possible for the country to bring its gas to markets in Europe only via routes going through Turkey or Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan is already on the path to exporting not only its own natural gas to Europe, but Iran’s as well. Although international sanctions are still in place, Tehran seems willing to consider the idea.

In August, Iran's Communications and Information Technology Minister Mahmoud Vaezi told Trend that Tehran would cooperate with Azerbaijan on gas transportation to Europe through the Southern Gas Corridor.

“Transportation through Azerbaijan is one of the routes of bringing Iranian gas to Europe,” Vaezi noted. “I believe we will be able to cooperate with Azerbaijan in the use of the Southern Gas Corridor. We have held talks in this regard with Azerbaijan's energy minister and the relevant structures.”

The Southern Gas Corridor is a priority energy project for the EU. It envisages the transit of gas from the Caspian Sea region to European countries through Georgia and Turkey.

This ambitious project aims to diversify the routes and sources of energy supply that will enhance Europe's energy security. The Southern Gas Corridor project will ensure Caspian gas supplies to European markets for the first time in history.

At its initial stage, the primary source of gas for the pipeline will be from Stage 2 of the Shah Deniz field. Other sources could also connect to the pipeline at a later stage.

As part of the second stage of development of the field, gas will be exported to Turkey and European markets via an expanded South Caucasus Pipeline and the construction of both the Trans-Anatolian and Trans-Adriatic pipelines.

It is believed that TANAP, which will later be linked to TAP, can become a reliable route for supplying Iranian gas to Europe. By joining TANAP, Iran is sure to strengthen Azerbaijan’s regional position as a transit country. This will not only bring economic benefits, but also political dividends that will be much more significant.

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Aynur Karimova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Aynur_Karimova

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