YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Construction on the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline was completed on Wednesday, opening up a new route for the transport of natural gas into the resource deprived Caucasus country.
The 140km pipeline, which runs from Iranian Tabriz to Armenia’s Meghri region, will bring 2.3 to 2.5 billion cubic meters of gas annually from energy rich Iran into Armenia.
The pipeline will start tests soon, and shortly after start transporting gas from Iran to Armenia.
Having an alternative gas pipeline is very important for Armenia, according to Armenia’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister, Armen Movsisian, who explained that the instability in the region requires Armenia to diversify its energy imports.
“By the construction of Iran-Armenia gas pipeline we first of all solve the issue on energy security for our country,” Movsisian said. “It will give [Armenia] an opportunity to ensure gas supply in unforeseeable situations, to avoid blows to the country.”
The contract was signed for 20 years. For each cubic meter of the Iranian gas, Armenia is supposed to return 3 kwh of electric energy to Iran.
The pipeline’s diameter is 700 mm and it cost about $220 million to construct. Many suspect that the pipeline’s diameter was reduced from 1,420 mm to 700 mm under pressure from Russian energy giant Gazprom, which purchased a majority share in the Armenian section of the pipeline through its subsidiary, Armrosgazprom.
If the pipeline had been built at the initial diameter, it would have allowed Iran to export to markets in Europe, thereby competing with Russia’s own natural gas industry
According to the minister, an agreement will soon be signed over the tariffs of gas supplied from Russia. The negotiations are ongoing, he said, adding that it is too to speak about the new tariffs.
The first section of the pipeline started operation on 20 December 2006, and was officially inaugurated by the Presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and Robert Kocharyan of Armenia on 19 March 2007.