European firms eye Iran gas

ANKARA (Reuters) – European energy firms Gaz de France and Swiss EGL are interested in buying gas from an Iranian field Turkey plans to develop, a senior Turkish Energy Ministry official said yesterday. The official, who declined to be named, told Reuters the European firms had been in touch with Ankara over Turkey’s agreement with Tehran to produce 20.4 billion cubic meters (bcm) from a section of Iran’s South Pars gas field. «Companies from Germany, France and Switzerland are interested in the gas that Turkey will take from Iran and they want to buy it. They have made contact with Turkey regarding this issue,» said the Turkish ministry official. Turkey has agreed to invest $3.5 billion in Iran’s gas fields starting in 2008, according to Turkish Energy Ministry officials. Last month, Turkey signed a preliminary deal to use Iran as a transit route for Turkmen gas. The deal would also allow the European Union-applicant country to develop Iran’s South Pars gas field to transport gas to Europe. The deal envisages exports of 30 bcm a year of gas from Iran and Turkmenistan to European markets. A Gaz de France spokesman said he was not aware of any Turkey connection. He said the company was looking separately at the South Pars gas field. «We are looking at the (South Pars) project together with Total and could become involved if it goes ahead,» a GDF spokesman said. «The aspect we would like to be involved in… concerns only LNG.» Another senior Turkish government official told Reuters that Ankara was not in favor of supplying Gaz de France because of a separate diplomatic row over a bill passed by France’s National Assembly, making it a crime to deny genocide was committed by Ottoman Turks against Armenians during World War One. The USA has already said it is against Turkey’s agreement to exploit gas from Iranian fields or use the country as a transit route.