Iran, Iraq, and Syria have signed a deal for the construction of the Middle East's largest gas pipeline, which would transit Iranian gas from Iran's South Pars gas field to Europe via Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea.
Iraqi Oil Minister Abdelkarim al-Luaybi, Syrian Oil Minister Sufian Allaw, and Iranian caretaker Oil Minister Mohammad Aliabadi inked the memorandum of understanding for the construction of the pipeline on Monday in the southern Iranian port of Assalouyeh, which is the nation's gas hub.
According to the deal, Iranian gas will be transited to Greece and other European countries via a 6,000-kilometer pipeline crossing thorough Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon and under the Mediterranean Sea.
"The overall cost of the project is estimated to be around $10 billion," Iranian Deputy Oil Minister Javad Ouji said after the signing ceremony, the Mehr News Agency reported.
The construction of the pipeline, stretching for several thousand kilometers, "should take three to five years, once funding is secured," Ouji, who is also the chairman of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), stated on Sunday.
According to the plan, within a month, three working groups are to be established to examine the technical, financial, and legal aspects of the project, which has been under discussion since 2008.
"Soon the feasibility studies will be given to an international consultant," Ouji stated, but he gave no timetable.
Hopefully, the final agreement for the project can be signed before the end of the year, the Iranian deputy oil minister said on Sunday.
Iran has the second largest proven gas reserves in the world after Russia.
Iraq has said that it needs 10 to 15 million cubic meters of Iranian gas per day.
By 2020, Syria will need about 15 to 20 million cubic meters of gas per day and Lebanon will need about five to seven million cubic meters of gas per day.
According to projections, Iran's gas output will double in the next two or three years due to the expansion of gas fields, which will make it possible for the country to export 250 million cubic meters of gas per day.
Earlier this month, Iran and Iraq discussed cooperation on the transfer of Iranian gas through Iraq and Syria to Europe during Iranian First Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi's visit to Baghdad.
The Iraqi ambassador to Iran, Mohammad Majeed al-Sheikh, said on July 5 that the gas deal would allow Baghdad to use Iran's natural gas supplies.
It is projected that when it is completed, the pipeline will have the capacity to pump 110 million cubic meters of natural gas per day.