A glance at Iran’s gas exports

A glance at Iran’s gas exports

BAKU, Azerbaijan, March 24

By Azer Ahmadbayli – Trend:

Paradoxically, Iran, which has the second largest proven gas reserves in the world (32 tcm in 2018, based on BP data), exports its strategic commodity to world markets in minuscule amounts, and this has been happening for decades.

If you look at the map, you will see that Iran is surrounded by gas producing and exporting countries: Qatar, Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, a consortium of Eastern Mediterranean countries. Recently, Saudi Arabia has put itself forward at the international level.

In 2018, according to the latest BP statistical review, Iran exported a tiny 12 bcm of gas. For comparison, Russia's exports amounted to 248 bcm, Qatar’s – 125 bcm, Turkmenistan’s – 35 bcm, and those are just closest neighbors.

Iran does not yet possess an LNG supply infrastructure, and therefore, is currently unable to access the largest markets in Asia (China, Japan, South Korea) and Europe.

Meanwhile, it is also out of the question to implement pipeline shipments to the European market in the near future, given the long-lasting sanctions regime, the general geopolitical climate around Iran, and, presumably, the lack of sufficient funds.

As a result, for Iran, it has to settle for the few regional markets that have become traditional for its gas export.

Based on preliminary figures published by the Turkish energy market regulator, in 2019, the volume of gas imports from Iran made the same as in 2018.

However, beginning from April and until the end of 2019, gas supplies from Azerbaijan exceeded those from Iran with year-end share in the Turkish gas market making 22 percent against Iran's 17 percent.

Iran, which has been consistently ranked second (after Russia) among gas suppliers to Turkey, has moved to the third position, giving way to Azerbaijan. In addition, during the year, Algeria and Qatar several times bypassed Iran by delivery volumes.

This has not been observed for at least the past ten years.

The Iraqi gas market is much more unpredictable due to the political instability prevailing in the country.

However, the very fact that supplies are dependent on a third party indicates the fragility of the situation with the export of Iranian gas to Iraq.

Iran also has agreements with Pakistan (IP pipeline project), Oman (Iran-Oman gas pipeline project) and India (MEIDP project) on the construction of export gas pipelines. But they are currently getting left on the shelf.

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