The Armenian government announced on Thursday plans to increase imports of natural gas from neighboring Iran, which currently meet up to one-fifth of Armenia’s gas demand.
Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian’s cabinet said it will set up a state-owned energy company for that purpose.
A government statement did not specify the volume of planned additional imports of Iranian gas, saying only that they will “make the use of the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline more efficient.” Nor did it say why the government needs a new legal entity to increase gas supplies from the Islamic Republic.
Neither Energy Minister Levon Yolian nor other government officials made public statements on the matter after a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan.
Armenia has imported up to 500 million cubic meters of Iranian gas annually ever since it built the pipeline in 2008. By comparison, Russian gas supplies to the South Caucasus country total around 2 billion cubic meters.
The Iranian gas has until now been formally purchased by a state-owned thermal-power plant in Yerevan. The plant pays for it with electricity delivered to Iran.
This swap arrangement is due to be expanded dramatically after the construction of a third power transmission line connecting the two neighboring states. Work on the $120 million line is slated for completion in 2018.
In early June, Armenia asked Iran to significantly boost gas supplies during a month-long suspension of its gas imports from Russia carried out via Georgia. A Georgian gas operator halted the transit of Russian gas at the time, citing the need for urgent capital repairs on a section of a Georgian pipeline stretching to the Armenian border. The company said the gas supplies will resume on August 10.