Iran likely be forced to cut gas supplies to Turkey

Dalga Khatinoglu, Head of the Trend Persian service/

Gas consumption in Iran has hit the record high of 551 million cubic meters per day in a situation that weather temperature in 28 of the total 31 provinces has reached below zero.

Currently Iran's daily gas production stands at around 554 million cubic meters, just 3 million cubic meters more than the daily production. This is while the country is obliged to export natural gas as much as 10 times of this figure to Turkey per day.

Turkey argues that Iran has failed to meet its obligations on exporting 30 million cubic meters of gas per day based on a deal which was signed by the two countries in 1996. So, Turkey has filed the second complaint against Iran and will sue the case at International Arbitration Court. The first legal case against Iran was about on the gas price.

Iran used to export 24 million cubic meters of gas per day to Turkey. But today, Iranian deputy oil minister and Managing director of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) Javad Owji announced that the country exports up to 30 million cubic meters of gas to its northwestern neighbor. In other words, Iran has probably increased gas exports to Turkey within recent days.

If we believe that Iran has boosted gas exports to Turkey by 6 million cubic meters within a few days, we will reach the conclusion that the country relies on importing 26-30 million cubic meters of gas per day from Turkmenistan. Now the question is that whether Turkmenistan would remain a trustworthy partner for Iran?

Turkmenistan started exporting natural gas to Iran after inaugurating The Korpeje-Kordkuy pipeline in 1996. The second pipeline, Dowlatabad-Sarakhs-Khangiran, was established in 2010.

Iran announced yesterday that Turkmenistan has cut gas exports to the country by around 50 percent.

Although this issue may not affect Iran's domestic gas supply during the cold winter, but it will certainly have an effect on exports of Iranian gas to Turkey.

Turkmenistan had once cut gas exports to Iran from December 2008 till March due to what it called "technical problems". The move led to the stop of gas supply to Iran's northwestern provinces as well as gas exports to Turkey.

Turkmenistan's Turkmengaz Company has halved its gas exports to Iran without any prior notice to some 10 million cubic meters, source told Mehr news agency, warning that the exports may even be declined further later on.

Iran inaugurated a 1,024km gas pipeline, dubbed the North-Northeast Pipeline, in order to transfer natural gas from South Pars to northern and northeastern regions. Iran has apparently managed to prevent from cutting the gas supply to these provinces.

But it is still uncertain whether Iran would continue exporting natural gas to Turkey. Considering the harsh winter at Turkey's eastern and southeastern regions, the country's officials are much more concerned about the security of energy supply to these regions.

Next to Russia, Iran holds the world's second largest gas reserves, with around 33 trillion cubic meters of deposit.

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