Turkmen restores gas supply flows to Iran

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Turkmenistan has resumed gas supplies to Iran after a brief halt for repairs along a stretch of pipeline linking the two countries, the head of Turkmenistan’s state gas company told Reuters on Friday.

Iran buys almost a third of Turkmenistan’s exported gas, relying on it for heating in winter and using it year round to meet industrial demand in regions distant from the country’s own fields clustered around the Gulf.

Turkmengaz Chairman Sahatmurad Mamedov said Iran had requested the halt. He denied an Iranian news report on Nov. 14 that the former Soviet republic and Iran were in a dispute over pricing.

“We stopped at their request, made repairs and re-launched supplies,” he said on the sidelines of an energy conference. “We’re now supplying the same volumes as before, in line with our contract.”

Mamedov declined to specify volumes or the dates on which supplies were halted.

A price dispute had led to a stoppage in gas supplies from Turkmenistan, Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qosemi was quoted by the Mehr news agency on Wednesday.

“Currently we have no gas shortage, even without importing gas from Turkmenistan”, Qasemi added.

Mamedov said there had been no disagreement on price, but that a stretch of the pipeline between Artyk in Turkmenistan and Luftabad in Iran had needed repairs, which had now been completed.

Hossein Esmaeili Shahmirzadi, general director for Europe, America and Caspian Sea countries at Iran’s Ministry of Petroleum, said on Nov.15 that the Islamic republic was receiving gas from Turkmenistan.

“We have no financial issues with Turkmenistan. We are importing gas from Turkmenistan,” he said during the same energy conference on Thursday.

“Perhaps there were some technical issues,” he said through an interpreter in Russian, when asked about the stoppage.

Iranian imports of Turkmen gas averaged just over 1 billion cubic feet a day from July 2011 to June 2012, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, but imports are much higher in winter and lower in summer.

Iran imports 15-18 million cubic meters of gas per day from Turkmenistan, but the figure reaches 30 million cubic meters during winter, Tehran Times online reported on Friday.

According to BP, Iran imported some 10.2 billion cubic meters of gas from Turkmenistan last year, while exporting some 8.4 billion cubic meters of gas to Turkey.

Iran also exchanged around 400,000 cubic meters of its gas to Armenia for electricity. With Azerbaijan, Iran is using swaps, which accounts for one million cubic meters of gas per day.

According to Tehran Times economic report on Friday, gas consumption and production in Iran amounted to about 153.3 billion cubic meters and 151.8 billion cubic meters, respectively in 2011.

Iran has been importing natural gas from Turkmenistan since 1997. Western-imposed banking restrictions have made it difficult for Iran’s suppliers and buyers to trade with Tehran.