YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Armenia is looking to increase imports of natural gas from neighboring Iran soon after a relevant memorandum of understand was initialed between the two countries’ corresponding firms earlier this week.
Armenia’s Ministry of Energy Infrastructure and Natural Resources reported on Wednesday that representatives of Armenia’s Energaimpex company and the National Iranian Gas Export Company put their initials to a document concerning the “sale, purchase and transit” of Iranian natural gas.
The Ministry said the ceremony took place within the framework of its delegation’s visit to the Islamic Republic that took place on October 31-November 1.
“The document will be submitted for signing in a prescribed manner in the time to come,” the statement added.
Armenia currently imports up to 500 million cubic meters of Iranian gas annually through a pipeline built in 2008. By comparison, Russian gas supplies to the South Caucasus country total around 2 billion cubic meters.
The Iranian gas has until now been formally purchased by a state-owned Armenian thermal-power plant. The plant pays for it with electricity delivered to Iran. Recently Yerevan reportedly offered to buy additional volumes of Iranian gas, some of which could be re-exported to Georgia, and the Iranian side is said to have accepted the proposal.
In its statement the Armenian Ministry of Energy Infrastructure and Natural Resources said that the delegation led by Deputy Minister Hayk Harutiunian held a series of meetings with Iranian energy officials and industry executives.
In particular, Armenian officials reportedly discussed prospects of transiting Iranian gas to third countries via Armenia with Iran’s deputy oil minister and a senior National Gas Export Company representative.
“The delegation also held meetings with Iran’s Deputy Energy Minister Houshang Falahatian and advisor to the minister Homayoun Hayeri. The meetings focused on issues of increasing the volumes of mutual flows of electricity, taking into account the prospects for expanding regional cooperation. The parties referred to the issue of increase of mutual flows between Armenia, Iran and Georgia within the current capacity of the high-voltage lines, and also in the Iran-Armenia-Georgia-Russia regional cooperation format after the expected launch of new infrastructures,” the Ministry said.
According to the report, the Armenian delegation members also visited the Iranian Mapna Company, which intends to invest in the construction of wind power stations in Armenia, as well as the Sanir Company, which is the general contractor for the construction of a third Iran-Armenia high-voltage line.
Announcing an upcoming Armenian-Iranian gas deal Artashes Tumanian, the Armenian ambassador to Iran, insisted in an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) last month that Russia will not object to it. Because, he said, the deal “does not run counter to anybody’s interests.”