ECONOMY

Kazakhstan natural gas targeted in Turkey-Iran pipeline agreement

ISTANBUL/ANKARA – A newly announced pipeline between Turkey and Iran may also carry natural gas from Kazakhstan to Europe, a spokesman for Turkey’s state pipeline company BOTAS said yesterday. «There have been some talks with Kazakh officials some months ago… it is hard to make concrete comments but we are expecting Kazakh gas,» said the head of BOTAS international projects department Emre Engur. He said plans for linking Kazakh gas with the infrastructure that will carry Turkmen gas that would travel to Turkey through Iran are a long-term goal but that efforts are being made to speed up the process. Another official also said that Turkey will be sending an official commission to Iran and Turkmenistan to work out the details of the newly announced deal that would transport Turkmen gas and develop an Iranian gas field. Issues such as volume, quality and price will be discussed at the meeting between the countries, said a high-level Energy Ministry official in Turkey. Turkey will import 30 billion cubic meters of gas from Turkmenistan and Iran. On the top of this, it expects to produce as much as 20.4 bcm of gas in Iran’s South Pars gas field. Talks will also aim at drawing other partners to the project. «The strength of the project will come into force when we can add Turkmen, Egyptian and Iraqi gas,» said an Energy Ministry official. The deal between Turkey and Iran has sparked criticism from the United States, which has said it is opposed to any country working with or investing in the Islamic republic. A bill before US Congress would punish any firm or country that invests more than $20 million in Iran. Trans-Caspian hopes Turkey’s talks with Turkmenistan will focus to a large degree on another plan to carry Turkmen gas through pipelines under the Caspian, reviving hopes of a Trans-Caspian pipeline. Turkey has offered to connect Azerbaijan’s Shakh-Deniz gas fields with Turkmenistan-claimed Block 1 gas fields in the Caspian, said a Turkish Foreign Ministry official. «If the pipeline is built, this will be one of the first steps in creating a Trans-Caspian pipeline,» he said. The pipeline had been dismissed as impractical after extended wrangling over the construction between the Caspian states. But officials are hoping that leap-frogging from Azeri fields to those claimed by Turkmenistan, where Turkey has contracts, would pose fewer problems.