Armenia plans to increase its imports of natural gas from Iran beginning in 2017, a senior government official said on Tuesday.
According to Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Hayk Harutiunian, this will enable Armenia to export more electricity to the Islamic Republic as part of the swap program that exists between the two neighboring states.
In August, just one month after Iran and world powers signed a historic agreement concerning the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, Yerevan and Tehran signed a contract worth about $120 million regarding the construction of a third high-voltage power transmission line that will connect the energy system of the two countries. Construction is expected to be completed within 18 months.
According to Harutiunian, the third transmission line will increase the volume of the Armenian-Iranian “gas-for-electricity exchange” deal.
“Definitely, the goal of this program is precisely to increase the volumes, because we will make better use of the potential of the Armenia-Iran gas pipeline and better use of our production capacity,” the official said.
At the same time, the deputy minister did not cite specific figures. “The capacity of the pipeline is 2 billion cubic meters a year, and the goal is to use it to the maximum,” he said.
Data of the Armenian Customs Service show that the Iranian natural gas is less expensive than the Russian one. During 2014, in particular, Armenia imported 383 million cubic meters of natural gas from Iran at a price of about $189 per 1,000 cubic meters. Meanwhile, over the same period Armenia purchased more than 2.1 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas at a price of $202 per 1,000 cubic meters.
However, the Iranian gas is not sold to Armenian enterprises and households. At the Yerevan thermal power plant it is converted into electricity, most of which is sent back to Iran.