ArmInfo. Armenia plans to increase imports of natural gas from neighboring Iran and will sign a relevant agreement with the Islamic Republic soon, Armenia's Ambassador to Iran Artashes Tumanian told RFE/RL's Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
According to Artashes Tumanian, Yerevan offered recently to buy additional volumes of Iranian gas, some of which could be re-exported to Georgia. The Iranian side accepted the proposal, he said. "Appropriate documents are being prepared and projects drawn up right now, and I think that unless something extraordinary happens, the deal will be signed," RFE/RL's Armenian service quotes him as saying. He declined to specify possible dates for its signing.
In what was clearly a related development, the Armenian government announced in August that it will set up an energy firm tasked with importing Iranian gas. It said nothing about import volumes. The announcement came shortly after then Energy Minister Levon Yolian's visit to Tehran. Tumanian insisted that Russia will not object to the planned Armenian-Iranian deal because it "does not run counter to anybody's interests." "Documents are close to being agreed upon, and I see no obstacles on either side," the source quotes him as saying.
To recall, when commenting on the increase of gas supplies to Armenia and the possibility of the Iranian gas transit to Georgia via Armenia, Iranian Ambassador to Armenia Seyed Kazem Sadjadi said on the sidelines of the Economic Forum "Armenia as a Bridge to Large Markets" on September 20 that during the upcoming visit of Iran's Oil Minister (Bijan Namdar Zanganeh - editor's note), among other issues, the negotiations would cover the prospects of the Iranian gas transit to Georgia. The diplomat said the issues related to Armenia were in the focus of Iran's attention. At the same time, Vache Gabrielyan, Armenian Minister for International Economic Integration and Reform, said that the Georgian side was not ready to implement the given project yet. The minister explained that Georgia perhaps enjoys certain preferences and discounts by other producers. That is why the issue is still at the stage of discussion.
Earlier in July 2016, IRNA reported with reference to the country's Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh that the test agreement on the export of Iranian gas to Georgia via Armenia was concluded. "Of course, Armenia is not a major consumer but can open an important way for Iranian gas exports. There is an agreement between the two sides", IRNA quoted the Iranian Minister as saying. According to him, Iran seeks to increase export of natural gas to Armenia from current 1 mln cubic meters daily to 3mln cubic meters by 2019. It was reported that the Government set up the EnergaImpEx CJSC, which will increase the natural gas imports from the Islamic Republic of Iran, making the use of the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline more efficient.
Meantime, the Georgian side has repeatedly said there is no agreement on export of Iranian gas to Georgia. Azerbaijan is the key supplier of gas to Georgia. The country also gets insignificant volumes of gas from Russia.
Currently Iran supplies nearly 370 mln cubic meters of gas to Armenia annually. In the future, when two new units of thermal plants in Yerevan and Vanadzor are put into operation, the supplies may reach 1.2 bln cubic meters. Earlier in January, Head of the National Iranian Gas Exports Co Ali-Reza Kameli said that Iran was negotiating on gas supply to Georgia via Armenia. The supply may total 500 mln cubic meters per annum.