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Armenia looks to Iran to enable gas swap deal with Turkmenistan

Armenia is negotiating a purchase of natural gas from Turkmenistan as part of a gas swap deal with Iran, Sputnik reported on December 18.

Such a use of the swap system indicates that the Turkmen will supply gas to northern provinces of Iran, while the Iranians, in turn, will supply gas to the Armenians.

Chairman of the Armenian National Assembly Standing Committee on Regional and Eurasian Integration Issues Mikael Melkumian said that Armenia was in discussions with Iran to secure a new gas supply using Iranian infrastructure.

His comments followed a visit made by top Armenian officials, including the Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructures Suren Papikyan, to Iran, where they met with Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian.

"The issue is under discussion. At the current time, this scheme does not work … but it will certainly work. One of its goals is also to create a common energy corridor from Turkmenistan through Iran, Armenia and Georgia to Russia," Melkumian said.

The lawmaker added that currently gas supplies from Iran were running at three times less than the capacity of the country’s gas pipelines for cross-border deliveries.

Melkumian said he hoped that the construction of a new Iran-Armenia power transmission line would allow the gas pipeline between the two countries to be fully loaded. Yerevan presently pays for Iranian gas with an electricity barter.

Currently, the maximum throughput of the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline is about 2.2bn cubic metres per year. Armenia purchases some 365-370 mcm from Iran as part of the ongoing “gas for electric” scheme.

A proposal to construct a thermal power plant with Iran is also under discussion, said Melkumian, adding that it would have a capacity of 234 MW per year.

Iran and Armenia signed a 20-year gas-electricity barter deal in 2004. Armenia started to import gas from Iran in mid-2009.