Iran says it has resumed a strategic scheme that involves swapping Turkmenistan’s natural gas with equal volumes for exports to Azerbaijan.
Amir Hossein Zamaninia, Iran’s deputy petroleum minister for international affairs and trade, was quoted by media as saying that the scheme – that had been halted in January – had been resumed in late March.
This, Zamaninia emphasized, followed recent negotiations between Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and his Turkmen counterpart Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow in Ashgabat.
The official said the swap scheme had been halted over what he described as the poor quality of natural gas imported from Turkmenistan.
He further stressed that Iran considered Turkmenistan as a “strategic partner,” adding that Iran had already informed Turkmenistan about its readiness to jointly export natural gas to India, Pakistan and the Persian Gulf littoral states.
Zamaninia also said Iran and Turkmenistan were already discussing a gas price dispute that had halted the flow of gas under a separate scheme between the two countries for over a year.
He said both countries were trying to resolve the dispute “with a positive attitude”.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the official said Turkmenistan had proposed to jointly develop three hydrocarbon reservoirs in the Caspian Sea, adding that Tehran was already studying the proposal.
Turkmenistan stopped gas exports to Iran in January 2017, saying its southern neighbor owed it as much as $1.8 billion for previous sales.
Iran disputed the claim and said it was ready to take the case to international courts for arbitration.
Most of Iran’s natural gas reserves are situated in the country’s southern provinces. Accordingly, it imports gas from Turkmenistan to satisfy demand in the northern provinces.