By Sara Rajabova
Iran, whose economy was battered by the international sanctions imposed on the country over its nuclear energy program, has long been eyeing to supply the European Union with its natural gas.
Expecting a speedy removal of sanctions under the recent nuclear deal signed between world powers and Iran, Tehran seems close to reaching its purpose.
Europe, also eager to engage in close energy cooperation with the Islamic Republic, especially after its relations with major energy supplier Russia has been spoiled over the Ukraine crisis. The EU hopes to import gas from Iran, which has some of the world's largest reserves, to reduce its dependence on Russia.
High-ranking officials from the European Union have intensified visits to Tehran with a purpose to look into prospects of energy cooperation with the Islamic Republic.
Iran, whicj is exploring possible export routes, now hopes to bring its gas to the European Union by shipping liquefied natural gas through Spain.
Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said Tehran has received a proposal from Madrid to use its liquefaction facilities to export LNG to Europe, Iranian media reported.
Zangeneh said the proposal was raised during his meeting with the Spanish Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism Jose Manuel Soria, who visited Tehran along with a 70-member Spanish delegation, including representatives of major businesses.
Iran’s Shana news agency quoted Soria as saying his country could "act as a channel for Iran's gas exports to Europe".
Iranian officials emphasized that discussions between Tehran and Madrid over the same issue will continue in the near future.
Iran was previously pursuing several major LNG projects that included Pars LNG, Persian LNG and Iran LNG. But they were later abandoned as complications grew – mostly as a result of sanctions that prohibit investments of liquefaction enterprises in Iran.
Spain has presently turned into a major hub for reloading LNG for re-export to Europe and elsewhere.
Zangeneh further emphasized that he had also discussed with Soria a wide range of issues for mutual cooperation in the oil industry, adding that a key demand he had raised was for Madrid to prepare the grounds for the participation of Spanish enterprises in projects to produce oil industry equipment in Iran.
He also said he had told the Spanish minister that plans for investments in Iran by foreign companies should also include targeting regional markets.
In the meantime, Iran expressed full readiness to restorethe 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil that it exported to Spain prior to sanctions.
Spanish companies are willing to cooperate with their Iranian counterparts in oil and gas projects including discovery, refinery and enhancing refinery capacity operations, he added.
Soria said Spanish companies could also cooperate with Iranians in the transfer of technologies and the supply of oil and gas goods and equipment.