By Dalga Khatinoglu
During Iran's ex-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presidency the oil officials kept warning about the high rate of gas consumption in the country. They used to stress the importance of cutting gas consumption, saying that Iran's gas consumption is equal to that of the European Union.
On March 2, the managing director of Iranian Fuel Conservation Company, Nasrollah Seifi, repeated the claim. He said that households' consumption accounts for the lion's share of the country's total gas consumption.
He went on to note that Iranians currently pays only 16 per cent of the real price of natural gas and the government pays for the rest in the form of subsidy.
According to him, the final price of natural gas after implementation of the subsidy reform plan should be around 18,700 rials per cubic meters. The figure currently stands at 700 rials.
Iran's gas consumption equal to that of EU's?
BP's annual report suggests that Iran's gas consumption was around 156.1 billion cubic meters in 2012. Iranian officials say that the consumption rate has been increased in the current calendar year, which started on March 21, 2013.
Iranian Mehr News Agency reported in January that the country's gas consumption is around 160 billion cubic meters per year now.
While according to BP, around 440 billion cubic meters of gas was consumed in the European Union (excluding Turkey's consumption and liquid gas consumption) in 2012.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's report, which was released in September 2013, the EU's gas consumption did not changed significantly in the first half of 2013. So a simple calculation shows that the EU's gas consumption is 2.75 times more than Iran's.
EU's consumption accounted for 13.4 per cent of the world's total gas consumption in 2012. Over 3.314 trillion cubic meters of natural gas was consumed across the world in the mentioned year.
Share of energy carriers in fuel basket
Nearly all of Iran's total energy consumption (excluding the 3 percent share of hydroelectric power) is related to the consumption of oil and gas. The EU consumed coal tantamount to 294 million tons oil equivalent accounting for some 8 percent of the world's coal consumption.
But, Iran consumed coal tantamount to 0.9 million tons oil equivalent. The world's total coal consumption was more than 3,730 million tons equivalent of crude oil in the mentioned year.
According to Iranian Oil Minister, Bijan Namdar Zanganeh natural gas has a 70 percent share in the country's fuel basket while the figure is much smaller in Europe.
On the other hand, nuclear energy has a nearly zero percent share in Iran's fuel basket, while the figure is about 200 million tons equivalent of crude oil in the EU. Based on a BP report, the share of hydroelectric power in 2012 in Iran was equivalent to the consumption of 2.9 million tons of crude oil, while it was equivalent to the consumption of 74 million tones oil equivalent in the EU.
The share of renewable energy in the fuel basket of the EU was equivalent to 95 million tons of crude oil, while the figure was nearly zero in Iran. The EU accounted for 14.5 percent of the world's total crude oil consumption in 2012, while the figure was 2.2 percent in Iran.
Per capita gas consumption in Iran and the EU
While the EU's population is 6.6 times that of Iran's, the per capita consumption of natural gas in Iran is more than the EU.
This is mainly due to the low price of gas in Iran. The major problem in Iran is the great share of gas consumption by household and commercial sectors, which account for 77 percent of the country's gas consumption.
Power plants and petrochemical units in Iran consume 130 million cubic meters and 35 million cubic meters of gas per day, respectively. Gas supply to power plants and petrochemical units sharply falls in winters due to rising consumption by the household sector.
Dalga Khatinoglu is Trend Persian Service head