Iran to boost Turkmen gas import
Iran and Turkmenistan agreed in Tehran on Saturday to increase the volume of natural gas importing from Turkmenistan to Iran by eight million cubic meters per day to reach 33 MCM.
Iranian Oil Minister Masoud Mirkazemi told SHANA news agency that by commissioning the Dovletabat-Sarakhs-Khangiran gas pipeline, Iran will receive 33 million cubic meters of gas per day in the first phase.
"This amount may be raised to 50 million cubic meters of gas per day in the next phases," he added.
The Dovletabat-Sarakhs-Khangiran gas pipeline is supposed to come on stream on December 20.
Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has invited his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to attend the inaugural ceremony.
Turkmenistan is a major gas producer in Central Asia, producing over 75 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas a year.
With an annual demand of 50 bcm, Russia is currently the leading export destination for Turkmenistan's gas.
In a bid to ease its dependence on Moscow's demand, Ashgabat is planning to increase its exports to Iran by 12 bcm a year, Reuters reported.
Turkmenistan has been supplying gas to Iran since 1997, but exports have never hit the Korpeje-Kurt Kui pipeline's full capacity of 8 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year, a report from the Russian newspaper Vremya said, adding that exports have not exceeded 6.5 bcm.
Ties between the two energy powers were strained in winter 2008 after Turkmenistan halted gas sales to Iran, but during an official visit by the Turkmen president to Tehran in February 2009, the two sides inked an agreement which would allow Iran to develop the Yolatan gas field in Turkmenistan and import a portion of the extracted gas annually.
Iran sits atop the world's second-largest natural gas reserves after Russia, and has long sought to promote itself as a transit route for oil and gas from Central Asian states.
Turkmenistan, Central Asia's biggest gas producer, is seen as one of the key suppliers for the planned Nabucco pipeline from Turkey to Austria, designed to ease Europe's dependence on Russia for gas supplies.