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    Caspian neighbours begin gas swaps


Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkmenistan agreed a swap deal in late November.

by: Joseph Murphy

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Natural Gas & LNG News, Asia/Oceania, News By Country, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

Caspian neighbours begin gas swaps

Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan began swapping gas supplies via Iran on January 1, Iranian state media has reported.

The three Caspian Sea neighbours agreed a swap deal in late November that would involve Turkmenistan transferring 1.5-2.0bn m3/year of gas to Iran and then Iran delivering an equivalent volume to Azerbaijan. The arrangement will help Turkmenistan offload excess gas supply and Azerbaijan ease a domestic supply crunch.

Iran is interested in expanding energy ties with Turkmenistan and the gas swap agreement is an important step towards this end, the Iranian oil ministry's Shana news agency reported on January 2. The agency also appeared to raise the prospect of Turkmenistan one day delivering gas to Iran that could be exported in the form of LNG.

"Turkmenistan is aiming for access to the high seas to enter export markets, and Iran is an important option because it can easily access southern waters and export its gas, and if that happens in the future, Iran will also benefit from it," Shana reported.

Iran has long harboured ambitions to export LNG, although international sanctions have so far prevented these plans from being realised. Turkmenistan, meanwhile, has struggled to find new markets for its sizeable gas resources. Projects to build new pipelines to send Turkmen gas to Europe and southeast Asia have been stuck in limbo for decades.