Turkey, Iran agree on power plants

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey and Iran agreed yesterday to build three power plants expected to use natural gas to generate 6,000 megawatts and also plan to build hydroelectric plants together, a senior Turkish energy official said. Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler went to Iran on Saturday and a memorandum of understanding on the power plants was to be signed yesterday, the official said. «Three 2,000 MW thermal plants will be built; in total it will be 6,000 MW. Separately the building of hydroelectric plants is foreseen and a memorandum of understanding will be signed today,» the official told Reuters from Tehran. Iran’s official news agency, IRNA, also said the two countries agreed to build three power plants together. The details of how many plants would be built in each country were still to be finalized, but the plants, including the hydro facilities, were expected to have a total capacity of 16,000 MW, the Turkish official said. Energy importer Turkey has been tightening energy ties with Iran in recent months and in July officials said Turkey planned to invest $3.5 billion in Iran’s gas fields from 2008. Ankara has signed a preliminary deal to use Iran as a transit route for Turkmen gas and to develop Iran’s South Pars gas field to take gas to Europe. Iran’s acting oil minister, Gholamhossein Nozari, said this deal was discussed yesterday. He said talks also covered forming a joint company to build a pipeline from Assalouyeh on Iran’s Gulf coast near South Pars to the Turkish border and from there to Europe, the Iranian Oil Ministry’s website SHANA reported. «By making this pipeline, 20 percent of the gas produced from the three phases 22 to 24 of South Pars will be sold to Turkey,» Nozari said, referring to the three stages of the gas field that Turkey wants to develop. Washington, which has no diplomatic ties with Iran but is a NATO ally of Turkey, has voiced opposition to the gas deal.