EU Plans for Iran Gas Imports if Sanctions Go
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The European Union is quietly increasing the urgency of a plan to import natural gas from Iran, as relations with Tehran thaw while those with top gas supplier Russia grow chillier.
Two "ifs" - the removal of sanctions on Iran and the addition of some pipeline infrastructure - are not preventing EU planners preparing, a European Commission source involved in developing EU energy strategy told Reuters.
"Iran is far towards the top of our priorities for mid-term measures that will help reduce our reliance on Russian gas supplies," the source said. "Iran's gas could come to Europe quite easily and politically there is a clear rapprochement between Tehran and the West."
Russia is currently Europe's biggest supplier of natural gas, meeting a third of its demand worth $80 billion a year. The EU has imposed sanctions on Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine, increasing the need for gas from elsewhere.
While sanctioned itself, Iran has the world's second largest gas reserves after Russia and is a potential alternative given talks between Tehran and the West to reach a deal over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.
"High potential for gas production, domestic energy sector reforms that are underway, and ongoing normalization of its relationship with the West make Iran a credible alternative to Russia," said a paper prepared for the EU's Directorate-Generale for External Policies following Russia's annexation of Crimea.
However, the paper added that Iran was not a credible alternative energy supplier in the short-term due to sanctions and large infrastructure needs before exports become viable.
Internal EU energy security documents seen by Reuters also describe plans to tap new non-European gas import sources in central Asia, including Iran.