‘Turkey ready to increase Iran gas imports’
Turkey says it wants to increase the volume of natural gas it is currently purchasing from Iran in what could be a serious sign from Ankara that it wants to enhance economic ties with the Islamic Republic.
The announcement was made by Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in a joint press conference with his visiting Iranian counterpart Mohammad-Javad Zarif.
Cavusoglu also added that he had discussed pricing issues with Zarif, stressing that Tehran and Ankara should resolve future disputes over gas prices without arbitration.
Turkey’s imports of natural gas from Iran stand at 30 million cubic meters a day (mcm/d) under a 25-year contract that was signed in 1996. However, the flow of gas has occasionally been disrupted as a result of disputes between both sides over pricing.
In January 2012, Turkey took Iran to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) court of arbitration in Switzerland after the Islamic Republic rejected Ankara's complaint that the price was too high.
Accordingly, the ICC in February ordered Iran to discount the price of gas by 10-15 percent, backdated to 2011, the media reported.
Iran is Turkey’s second supplier of gas after Russia, providing one-fifth of the country’s consumption.
Iran has also for long been working on a plan to export its natural gas to Europe through Turkey. The plan – that was to be carried out though the Nabucco scheme – was eventually put on hold due to a series of technicalities. Nevertheless, officials in Tehran announced last month that the possibility that gas exports to Europe would return to the agenda exist “if the requited agreements with Europeans countries over the plan are reached”.
Iran’s export of natural gas to Turkey was a key theme in meetings of Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif with Turkish officials on Friday. Zarif arrived in Ankara earlier on the day to discuss bilateral cooperation and regional issues with Turkish officials. Shortly after meeting Cavusoglu, he met Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.