Iran will begin exporting natural gas to Iraq in a month’s time, Managing Director of the National Iranian Gas Company Hamid Reza Araqi said on Saturday.
The gas flow will begin with a one-month delay after final tests on the pipeline are completed, he said.
Exports were planned to begin this month but “the two sides were not technically ready” for that, the official told reporters, stressing that the delay was not linked to political issues.
Iran is expected to initially deliver 4 million cubic meters of gas per day (mcm/d) and raise it to 35 mcm/d later to feed three power plants in Iraq.
Araqi said there are a series of contractual issues about the Iraqi payment which the two sides are discussing to clarify.
“Given that we are currently under sanctions, the mode of receiving the money for the exported gas is very important to us,” he said.
“If sanctions are abolished, we will easily receive money upon the presentation of an account book. But if the sanctions remain in place, we have to find a solution,” Araqi said.
Iran and the West are currently engaged in a grueling set of negotiations, with sanctions being one of the key matters of disagreement.
Araqi said Iran and Iraq also have to finalize testing the last line of the pipeline which needs the injection of water where the two sides had problems to supply.
“With the arrangements made, the gas pipeline tests will be completed in July at the maximum and we will be ready to export gas to Iraq,” Araqi said.
The two countries signed the agreement for transfer of Iran’s natural gas to Iraq in 2013.
Iran and Iraq have turned to close allies from staunch enemies under the former dictator Saddam Hussein who commanded a war between the neighbors for eight years in the 1980s.
A high-ranking Iraqi delegation visited Tehran this week and discussed oil and gas drilling by Iranian companies in the Arab country.
The visit by Director General of the state-run Iraq Drilling Co. Idriss Mohsin al-Yasiri took place with the aim of “ceding some oil and gas drilling projects” by Iraq to the Iranian side, Iranian media said.
Yasiri said he expected the two sides to begin cooperation on vertical and directional drilling in the future.