YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Iran has started supplying natural gas to Armenia through a recently built pipeline, according to top energy officials in Tehran and Yerevan.
Energy Minister Armen Movsisian told the Arminfo news agency that the long-awaited supplies began on Thursday in accordance with an Armenian-Iranian agreement signed in Yerevan the previous day. He said their volume will gradually rise and total 1.1 billion cubic meters this year.
The information was confirmed by Seyyed Reza Kasaiizadeh, managing director of the National Iranian Gas Export Company (NIGEC), according to Iranian media. Kasaiizadeh arrived in Yerevan on Monday to work out the remaining practical modalities of the deliveries with his Armenian colleagues.
In Movsisian’s words, the resulting agreement with the NIGEC was signed by the Yerevan Thermal Power Plant in and Armenia’s largest hydro-electric plant located in the southeastern Syunik region. The two state-owned facilities will presumably pay for Iranian gas with electricity exports to the Islamic Republic.
Armenia and Iran had formally agreed on the gas supplies in 2004. The second and final Armenian section of the gas pipeline connecting them was inaugurated last December.
The pipeline’s annual capacity of about 2.3 billion cubic meters essentially matches the current level of Russian gas supplies that already meet Armenia’s domestic energy needs. Much of the Iranian gas is therefore expected to be used for power generation.
Kasaiizadeh was reported to say ahead of his Yerevan talks that the daily volume of Armenian gas imports from Iran will reach 3 million cubic meters by the end of 2010 and could rise to 4 million cubic meters in 2011.
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