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News number: 8711091377

16:05 | 2009-01-28

Economy

نسخه چاپي ارسال به دوستان

Iran Eyes Europe Gas Deal

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran is keen to discuss a deal to supply gas to the energy-hungry European continent, a senior Iranian official said yesterday.



"Iran is ready to discuss not just supply but also security. Energy security is the most important project which we are available to discuss...if the West asks for sustainable energy, Iran is available to talk," Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mehdi Safari said in an Athens lecture.

Europe currently obtains the bulk of its gas from Russia, but a standoff this month between Ukrainian state gas company Naftogaz and Russian energy giant Gazprom resulted in several European countries being deprived of gas supplies for two weeks amid freezing winter temperatures.

A deputy minister for European affairs, Safari yesterday said Switzerland recently signed a contract for Iranian gas deliveries via Turkey and European investors are participating in a new pipeline project to the West.

Both Iran and Russia are part of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum that was formed last month.

Iran, which sits on the world's second largest reserves of both oil and gas, is facing US sanctions over its civilian nuclear program.

Iranian officials have dismissed US sanctions as inefficient, saying that they are finding Asian partners instead. Several Chinese and other Asian firms are negotiating or signing up to oil and gas deals.

In a last case, Iran signed gas deals worth $14 billion with Malaysia's SKS Group in early December, including a contract to build an LNG plant.

Following US pressures on companies to stop business with Tehran, many western companies decided to do a balancing act. They tried to maintain their presence in Iran, which is rich in oil and gas, but not getting into big deals that could endanger their interests in the US.

Yet, after oil giants in the West witnessed that their absence in big deals has provided Chinese, Indian and Russian companies with excellent opportunities to sign up to an increasing number of energy projects and earn billions of dollars, many western firms are increasingly showing interest to invest or expand work in Iran.

Some European countries have also recently voiced interest in investment in Iran's energy sector after a gas deal was signed between Iran and Switzerland regardless of US sanctions.

The National Iranian Gas Export Company and Switzerland's Elektrizitaetsgesellschaft Laufenburg signed a 25-year deal in March for the delivery of 5.5 billion cubic meters of gas per year.

The biggest recent deal, worth €100m ($147m, £80m), was signed by Steiner Prematechnik Gastec, the German engineering company, this year to build equipment for three gas conversion plants in Iran.