Will Iran to replace Russian gas to Europe?

Nicholay Bobkin,
Especially for Iran.ru

28 april 2014

Today, when the world has become a global and interdependent, Ukrainian crisis affects the interests of many countries do not even have close geographic proximity to Kiev. Cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, the traditional Friday prayers at Tehran University called the U.S. intervention as "an act of aggression." "The intervention of the U.S. in the events taking place in Ukraine has put this state on the brink of war," - he said. His assessment reflects the position of the Iranian leadership, although the world media, and our continued attempts to present the country of Iran, allegedly seeking to exploit the situation to their advantage and to the detriment of Russia's energy interests. Emphasis is placed on assumptions about Iran's ambition to play on the side of the West and replace Russian gas to Europe. So does this look at in this article.

Do I need Iranian gas to Europe?

This question can give an affirmative answer. Discussions about the imminent disappearance of Europe's dependence on traditional energy resources are maintained for many years, but more than half of its energy needs of the EU still meets through import. By 2050, 25% of Europe's energy needs will be met by gas, and the cost of fuel imports in 2030 will reach about 500 billion euros. Russia is the first exporter of energy in Europe, ahead in Norway, Algeria and other countries. Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Bulgaria dependent on Russian gas by 100%. Even in Germany, where the share of Russian gas last year was only 28%, depends on it so much that he can not afford to reduce dependence at a faster pace, while trying to do this for years. Contenders to replace Russian gas a little background on the crisis in Ukraine, its gas services are trying to impose on the United States of Europe.

The supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from America to Europe - a long-term perspective, and expect a quick arrival of U.S. gas to Europe is not worth it. American purchasing gas, Europeans will suffer serious financial losses. American deliver gas to Europe is possible only by sea. The necessary infrastructure for receiving LNG in Germany, for example, absent. Will the Germans build terminals costing more than $ 5 billion in the interests of the U.S. energy strategy? However, even if the decision to move to Europe from America LNG first major deliveries may be initiated no earlier than 5-6 years. However, if the U.S. does not save gas to Europe. Licenses issued by the U.S. American companies will allow 2020 to increase supplies to Europe to 60-70 billion cubic meters, and the Europeans in 2013 consumed gas is almost ten times more.

Norway, a reliable political ally of the EU, also dispelled hopes Europeans significantly expand its gas supply in case of reducing purchases from Russia. "In the short term we will be able to increase gas production, but not very much," - said Minister of Petroleum and Energy of Norway Tord Lien. He recalled that in 2020, gas production in the country will be increased to 130 billion cubic meters. In 2013 this figure amounted to 110 billion cubic meters. Other sources of diversification in its western environment Europeans do not have, we have to buy gas from "Gazprom" and to look to the East.

There is Qatar, where now delivered more than a quarter of the EU liquefied gas, but the importance of this factor for the energy supply of Europe exaggerated. Qatari gas supply volumes although lower competitiveness of Russian raw materials, but is insignificant. And in the future Qatar prefers not Europe. This year is expected to decline in the supply Qatari gas to the EU. The strategy Doha dominate long-term contracts with the countries of Asia and South America for their implementation will need large amounts of raw materials. Obviously, the retraction of Qatar in the war against "Gazprom" Europe will have to wait for years to come.

Haunted Europe Caspian gas. Azerbaijan actively advocated in recent days as an alternative to not be able to compete in the scope of supply from Russia. Need to recognize that in the long term, even if successfully implemented projects and TAP TANAP, Baku will satisfy European demand for gas by only 4%. That is to fill the European export pipe alone it can not by definition. Azerbaijan reserves of natural gas is on the 28th place, and much inferior to neighboring Turkmenistan. Turkmens but did not expect the beginning of the construction of the EU Trans-Caspian pipeline and reoriented their long-term contracts to China. There are a project of Turkmen gas supplies to Afghanistan, then to Pakistan and India.

Hopes that Turkmenistan will be filling their gas pipe Azerbaijani Europeans lost. As Russia and Iran against the construction of a gas pipeline under the Caspian Sea. Build on the same area of ​​the northern provinces of Iran are not allowed to Americans, they generally set a goal not to let the Iranian gas to foreign markets. Objections to this account of the Old World in Washington are not perceived in spite of unique export opportunities in Iran.

Who stands in the way of Iranian gas?

Iranian gas might fear, especially the United States. In the depths of Iran is about 35 trillion cubic meters. meters of natural gas. Currently, Iran produces only 700 million cubic meters. meters of natural gas per day. For comparison, we note that "Gazprom" at the end of last year recorded a record daily volume of gas production over the past almost five years in the amount of 1.653 billion cubic meters, or 230% more than Iran's daily production. In terms of annual gas production, according to data published in the Statistical Review of World Energy (Statistical Review of World Energy), Iran is behind the U.S. and Russia almost quadrupled, receiving in 2011 a little more than 150 billion cubic meters. meters of gas. Now the Iranian government plans to increase gas production provides up to 2015 twice.

The projections of the Iranian gas industry directly governing this industry assessment of immediate prospects are much more modest. In 2014 and 2015. this figure can be increased to 895, respectively, and 950 million cubic meters. m night. And the absolute best part of this amount will be consumed domestically. Although, in the first place, you need to increase gas production to Iran for export, the volume of which is forecast to Iranians themselves, must be at least 30% of the gas produced in the country, or up to 250 million cubic meters per day. That is, the daily volume of gas delivered abroad is planned in the coming years to increase from 35 million cubic meters. m almost seven times. Of course, that the European market place in these plans found.

The main obstacle to Iranian gas went to Europe, is a confrontation between Washington and Tehran, in which the EU took the side of the Americans. In addition to the existing more than one year sanctions prohibiting investments in Iranian gas industry, the EU has imposed an embargo on the supply of natural gas from Iran. This decision concerns the import, purchase and transport of gas, as well as financing and insurance activities related to the gas industry. Prior to the abolition gas blockade of Iran any arguments on Iranian gas to Europe is meaningless, but even after the lifting of sanctions, the political decision to pipe from Iran is problematic. Even the apparent absence of alternatives in choosing the replacement of Russian gas to the proposed Washington energy war against Russia in Tehran Americans their ally status is not considered. The White House is true to himself and block all attempts to get out of Iran gas blockade not only in Europe but also the Asian direction. An example of this plan of laying the pipe in Pakistan.

The main obstacle to the construction of the Iran - Pakistan are U.S. sanctions against Iran. On the delays in project implementation by Islamabad, in dire need of energy resources, affects not only the difficult economic situation, but also the pressure from Washington. U.S. urges Pakistan to abandon the construction. Section of the pipeline on the Iranian side has long been built, its length is 1.1 thousand km. Pakistan has sufficient financial means for the construction of its section of the pipeline. To date, the necessary competitions, the final draft is ready pipeline. However, in Pakistan not even begun to begin work. Anticipated construction time - 30-36 months, but Iran can cancel the contract for the supply of gas to Pakistan and abandon the multibillion dollar project. This was announced by Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh.

To prevent Iranian gas to markets in neighboring countries the U.S. supports the Turkmenistan - Afghanistan - Pakistan - India (TAPI) gas pipeline stretching more than 1,700 kilometers and a capacity of about 30 billion cubic meters of gas per year. Washington is trying to convince the Turkmen side is that the security of the pipeline going through Afghanistan will be no problems. Based on what Americans' confidence remains a mystery. A few months ago the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which finances the TAPI project, blocked its implementation because of the uncertainty associated with the conclusion in 2014 of the international security force in Afghanistan, where the situation is not improving, but has clear signs of escalating into civil war.

In fact, the Americans insist on the construction of a gas pipeline under combat conditions. In Afghanistan, there are areas where the central government is weak and local governments at different corruption and irresponsibility that allows the Taliban to maintain leverage over the situation in the south, southeast and east of the country. Moreover, in Pakistan gas pipeline should be routed to bypass the tribal areas, where the situation is no less militant than in Afghanistan. In such circumstances, to find investors willing to finance work on the vast territory of two highly volatile, very difficult. The main thing for Americans to provide an alternative to the Iranian project in Pakistan, which Washington's energy needs are disregarded. The U.S. has turned the TAPI project in the pipeline, leading nowhere.

What routes Iran may send gas to Europe?

But Iran, despite U.S. opposition, from its conception to play a significant role in the global gas market refuses. While Tehran focuses on the desire to select the Russian part. Minister of Industry, Trade and Mines of Iran Mohammad Reza Nematzade said: "We do not want to be a competitor of Russia. At the same time we know that the demand for gas in Europe is becoming more and want to get their share of the market. " Skeptics in this statement see more political sense and do not want to accept the reality of schemes under which Iran would avoid competition with Russia to supply Iranian gas to Europe. Vain, because now there is an example of reasonable relationship to the Iranians reacted with "Gazprom" on the general for our countries the Turkish gas market.

Recall that the largest export market for gas to Iran now is Turkish. According to the Ministry of Petroleum of the Islamic Republic, the daily volume of natural fuel in Turkey is about 28 million cubic meters. m, which is generally a little more than 10 billion cubic meters per year. Russian gas supplies nearly three times more - 25.99 billion cubic meters. But Iran does not seek to achieve short-term preferences for yourself by holding your highest gas prices. Russian gas to Turkey costs about 425 dollars per 1,000 cubic meters of Iranian gas it buys under $ 490, for Azerbaijani gas country pays 335 dollars. Turkey had demanded from Iran a discount to reduce the price to at least the Azerbaijani Tehran concessions did not go and did not play along with the Turkish side to lower the price for Russian gas.

Iranians are in no hurry to counterbalance Russian gas to increase its exports. Do not forget that the existing pipeline allows to pump up to 40 million cubic meters of Iranian natural gas per day to Turkey, but its capacity is used only by 70-75% (about 28 million cubic meters. M). It is suggested that reserves bandwidth can be used for the transit of Iranian gas to Europe. However, the prospect of such exports alienate not only current sanctions, Iran fears trust Turkey, a U.S. ally and NATO member, a transit country for its gas. From the experience of Russian gas transit through Ukraine, followed in recent years, encouraged by America's "gas war", the Iranians concluded unreliability Turkish route.

Therefore, in the strategic plans of Iran's leadership has a bold plan to open the "Corridor" to Europe through friendly Arab states (Iraq and Syria) with access to the Mediterranean coast. The agreement to build the pipeline, known as "Islamic Gas", was signed by the parties in July 2012 The pipeline through Iran will be 225 km, Iraq - about 500 km, Syria - 600 km. According to the project capacity will be 110 million cubic meters of gas per day. Iraq and Syria will fly daily from 20 to 25 million cubic meters of gas. A certain amount of gas through the Arab gas transportation system will be delivered to Lebanon and Jordan, the other 50-60 million cubic meters of Iranian gas can be contracted for Europe. Compare: daily volume of gas supplies from Russia to the EU is 270 million cubic meters of gas. Obviously, replace Iranian gas supplies from Russia will not work.

Can not be ignored in this project Iranian American opposition. Its implementation will make it unnecessary to build a gas pipeline from Qatar to the Syrian Mediterranean coast. Pipeline "Islamic gas" does not suit the U.S., which together with the Gulf monarchies are fighting for the lead Syria from Iran, including in order to control the energy region of the Middle East. Here America's determination to destabilize the Russian gas supplies to Europe can not be removed from the U.S. agenda usual goal of containment of the Islamic Republic. Iranian gas will remain locked even if the lifting of sanctions and the settlement of the nuclear issue of Iran. Iranians will continue to build its exports of natural gas in a "gas war" from America. In fact, in this fight the Iranians may be the only ally of Russia, showing an example of its policy towards Ukrainian strategy to counter Washington's willingness to American diktat, including in the sphere of world energy.

***********

The West fails to persuade Tehran to gas cooperation, thus repulsed from Russia of its export market. Iran is an independent policy in the context of the crisis in Ukraine and calls for sanctions against Russia, the Iranian leadership to provocations U.S. and the EU can not be. Proposal made by Ilham Aliyev during his recent visit to Tehran to mediate in organizing the supply of Iranian gas to Europe (in this case there were hints that a preliminary agreement with the Europeans practically available) bypassing Russia, Tehran categorically rejected. Iran does not intend to use the current situation to their advantage, contrary to Russia's energy interests. Since the Islamic Republic must be negotiated from positions of equal partnership, a strategic priority in energy cooperation between Russia and Iran gives interested in specific response and business away from Moscow. Our contacts for cooperation in oil and gas sector in the recent rise, but need breakthrough solutions. Big oil Russian-Iranian agreement, the signing of which terrified the United States and the West is stuck in the bowels of the Russian bureaucracy and blocks the action of the fifth column. Here, more than ever need a willful decision. Need to go all the way to the end and fasten the joint determination to resist the American and Western dictates the signing of this document.

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