Head of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) says the country has a plan in place for launching gas exports to neighboring Afghanistan.
“The initial plan has been prepared and diplomatic negotiations are ongoing,” said Hassan Montazer Torbati on Monday as he briefed reporters on the latest situation of Iran’s gas exports to neighboring countries.
Torbati said gas exports to Afghanistan would be commissioned to private contractors although he insisted that the government has already provided the full infrastructure needed for transfer of gas to its eastern neighbor.
Afghanistan is increasingly relying on Iran for its energy needs as the landlocked country moves to expand economic activity through opening a new trade route that passes through Iran to the Indian Ocean.
However, Iranian energy supplies, including electricity, are mostly available to western parts of Afghanistan where the security of transfer infrastructure can be properly guaranteed.
Iran has increased both the output and exports of natural gas in recent years despite a series of US sanctions that have specifically targeted the country’s energy sector.
Nearly a tenth of Iran’s current output of more than 700 million cubic meters of gas is exported, mainly through pipelines to Turkey and Iraq.
On exports to Turkey, where authorities have touted the discovery of a new gas reserves in the Black Sea, Torbati said Ankara would still need to import gas from Iran to respond to its growing energy demand.
He said talks on renewing a 25-year export agreement with Turkey that is set to expire in several years’ time would start in the near future.