Iran ,Iraq and Syria inked on Monday a Memorandum of Understanding for the construction of pipelines designed to deliver Iran’s natural gas to the two Arab nations in the next three to five years and possibly to Lebanon and Europe in the future, local media reported.
The document was inked in the Assalouyeh industrial region located in the southern province of Bushehr by Iranian oil minister Mohammad Aliabadi, Iraq’s oil minister Abdul Kareem Luaiby, and Syrian counterpart Sufian Alow, the agency said. Iraqi oil officials confirmed that Mr. Luaiby was in Iran to sign the agreement. They gave no further details.
“The overall cost of the project is estimated around $10 billion,” deputy oil minister and chairman of the Iranian National Gas Company (NIGC), Javad Ouji, was quoted by the Mehr news agency as saying after the signing ceremony.
The construction of pipelines, “should take three to five years once funding is secured,” according to an estimate by Ouji on Sunday.
The pipeline length is more than 1,500 kilometers and will run from Assalouyeh to Damascus while passing throughIraq, with a transfer capacity of 110 million cubic meters of natural gas a day, it said.
The gas will be produced from the Iranian South Pars gas field in the Gulf, which Iran shares with Qatar, and holds estimated reserves of 16 trillion cubic meters of recoverable gas.
According to Mehr, the document envisages setting up within a month three working groups to look respectively at the technical, financial and legal aspects of the project, which has been under discussion since 2008.
“Soon the feasibility studies will be given to an international consultant,” Ouji said without detailing any timetable.
The Iranian official had on Sunday said he hoped the final agreement launching the project could be signed before the end of the year.
Iran has the second largest proven gas reserves in the world after Russia.
It currently consumes almost all of the approximately 600 million cubic metres (21.8 trillion cubic feet) per day of gas production, but hopes to double its production and export some 250 million cubic metres per day to its neighbours and to Europe from 2015 through developing a giant offshore gas field in the Gulf, which it shares with Qatar.
Sources: ahram, WSJ