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    Central Asia
     Aug 18, '14

Iran 'no longer needs' Turkmenistan's gas
By Bruce Pannier

It appears Turkmenistan is about to lose its second-best customer for natural gas, Iran.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said on August 11 that his country no longer needed gas from Turkmenistan. Zanganeh went so far as to say, "Iran is importing Turkmen gas just because it is important to promote political and economic relations with Turkmenistan."

The oil minister's comments could be bargaining tactics, as Iran

has frequently sought to convince Turkmenistan to lower the price for its gas, or it could reflect a potential shift in Iran's role in the international gas market.

Zanganeh said that with Iran about to boost domestic gas production by some 200 million additional cubic meters starting in March next year, the country could "abandon completely gas imports from Turkmenistan." This contrasts with his statements in May that Iran would continue to import Turkmen gas at existing levels.

It is quite a turn of events for Turkmenistan. In early 2010 a new, second pipeline bringing Turkmen gas to Iran was launched. At that time leaders in the two countries spoke about gas imports to Iran reaching up to 20 billion cubic meters (bcm) annually. A new gas-compressor station started operation in western Turkmenistan in December 2013, built specifically to export more gas to Iran. More

With contributions from Toymyrat Bugayev of RFE/RL's Turkmen Service.

Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC 20036. For original article, see here

Copyright (c) 2014, RFE/RL Inc.




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