The Armenian government wants to more than double imports of natural gas from neighboring Iran, according a senior executive of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC).
Armenia has imported up to 500 million cubic meters of Iranian gas annually through a pipeline built in 2008. It has paid for those deliveries with electricity generated at a thermal power plant in Yerevan.
The swap arrangement is due to be expanded significantly following the construction of a third power transmission line connecting the two countries. It is due to be completed in 2019.
The NIGC director for foreign relations, Behzad Babazadeh, said last week that Yerevan wants to increase the daily volume of current Iranian gas deliveries from less than 1 million cubic meters to 2 or even 2.5 million cubic meters even before the new high-voltage line comes on stream. “NIGC is considering this request,” he told the Shana news agency.
Babazadeh made clear that the Iranian side would like to be paid for the additional gas in cash. He also indicated that extra supplies would cost Yerevan more than the current price of Russian gas for Armenia set at $150 per thousand cubic meters. “Of course, Armenia favors the price of Russia's gas sales, which is low, and we do not accept it,” he said.
Armenia imports around 2 billion cubic meters of Russian gas each year. Russia’s Gazprom gas monopoly owns the South Caucasus state’s gas distribution network.
The Armenian Ministry for Energy Infrastructures and Natural Resources declined to comment on the Iranian official’s claims on Monday.
Visiting Yerevan last December, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said he and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian agreed to increase Iranian gas supplies to Armenia. But he did not elaborate.
Rouhani and Sarkisian held fresh talks in Tehran after the Iranian leader was sworn in for a second term earlier this month. Armenian-Iranian cooperation on energy was reportedly on the agenda of the talks.