ECONOMY

US against Iran gas deal

ANKARA (Reuters) – The United States opposes new Turkish plans to transport Turkmen gas via Iran and Turkey to Europe and for a Turkish state-owned firm to develop Iran’s South Pars field, a State Department official said yesterday. «By government and by law, we are opposed to investment in Iran or energy projects in the country,» the official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters over the phone. A senior Turkish energy official said on Saturday that Turkey had signed a preliminary agreement with Iran to pump 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Iran and Turkmenistan through Iran and on to Europe. The agreement also included a plan for the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) to develop Iran’s South Pars gas field in three phases and extract 20 bcm of gas from there. An official from Turkey’s Ministry of Energy, however, said that the project was not against anyone’s interests. «The agreement that Turkey made is not against anyone. This is a project that is extremely important for meeting Turkey’s and the European Union’s gas needs,» said an official from the Turkish Energy Ministry. The Turkish official said the deal meant no further supplies were needed for the Nabucco project – a -4.6 billion ($6.35 billion) pipeline, supported by the EU, to bring central Asian gas to Europe. Turkey had sought Russian gas for the project. The United States, a NATO ally of Turkey, has no diplomatic ties with Iran. The US Congress is considering legislation that would force President George W. Bush to impose sanctions on European and other companies that invest more than $20 million in Iran’s oil and gas industry. Details of the Turkish-Iranian deal would be announced in a month’s time, the Turkish official had said. Cooperation with Russia Another official said yesterday Turkey is seeking new energy cooperation deals with Russia and wants Moscow to give Ankara free use of a natural gas field. The official told Reuters giving Turkey use of such a gas field would be in line with cooperation deals which Moscow has with other countries. «Turkey wants (to operate) one of Russia’s natural gas fields for free as happens with the other countries to which Russia sells large volumes of gas,» the official said.