Reuters: Iran has reduced natural gas exports to Turkey after Turkmenistan halted supplies to Iran, an Iranian energy official said on Tuesday. By Hossein Jaseb
TEHRAN, Jan 1 (Reuters) – Iran has reduced natural gas exports to Turkey after Turkmenistan halted supplies to Iran, an Iranian energy official said on Tuesday.
Turkmenistan’s Foreign Ministry said the export cut was a temporary measure while essential maintenance work was carried out on a pipeline. The Iranian official said he expected Turkmen deliveries to be restored by the end of the week.
Some Iranian media suggested the halt might be linked to a pricing dispute.
An Iranian news agency, Fars, said Iran had slashed its daily sales to Turkey by around 75 percent to 4-5 million cubic metres due to Turkmenistan’s move and the cold winter weather.
Iranian officials said on Monday Turkmenistan had stopped daily exports of up to 23 million cubic metres of gas to Iran.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said he had “strongly urged” Turkmenistan to resolve the technical problems in a phone conversation with his Turkmen counterpart.
“It is caused by the need to carry out repairs and preventative work linked to the operation of the corresponding gas pipeline,” the Turkmen Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “It is a normal technological process.”
Iran, a small net importer of gas despite its huge reserves, normally gets 5 percent of its needs from Turkmenistan and the supply disruptions caused shortages in some northern areas.
People queued for alternative fuel to heat their homes and formed long lines at bakeries because they could not cook at home, state television footage showed.
“I had to wait three hours for 20 litres of oil,” one women said in Golestan province.
“I have a one-month-old baby at home. What should I do?” one angry man said.
Mottaki said he hoped Turkmenistan would soon resume deliveries and an official of the National Iranian Gas Company said he expected this to happen in the next few days.
“Our prediction is that, by the end of the week, gas exports from Turkmenistan to Iran would be restored,” Ebadollah Ghanbari, who heads the public relations unit of the National Iranian Gas Company, told Reuters.
Ghanbari confirmed that Iran had reduced deliveries to Turkey, without giving details: “We have had some decrease in the export of gas to Turkey.”
In November, Turkmenistan reached an agreement to raise the price on gas it delivers to Russia’s gas export monopoly Gazprom by 30 percent.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mahdi Safari said Iran and Turkmenistan had also been discussing price issues “for some time now” but that this was not related to the gas supply cut.
Turkey, which is seeking to become a regional energy transit hub, has signed a natural gas supply contract with Iran. Some European Union countries have misgivings because Iran is subject to United Nations sanctions over its nuclear programme.
Ankara is also involved in the consortium planning to build the Nabucco pipeline to take Caspian gas to Europe.
The consortium, which includes Austria’s OMV, Hungary’s MOL MOLB.BU, Bulgaria’s Bulgargaz and Romania’s Transgaz, has secured gas from Azerbaijan but also sees Iran and Turkmenistan as other possible suppliers for the route.
(Additional reporting by Zahra Hosseinian; Writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Robert Woodward)