EghtesadOnline: Iran exported over 5 billion cubic meters of natural gas in the first five months of the current fiscal year (March 21-August 22), up more than 60% from the same period last year, thanks to higher supplies from its giant gas field in the south and a new, long-term customer in the west.
"Natural gas exports averaged 34.8 million cubic meters per day in the five-month period compared to 21.3 mcm/d in the corresponding period of a year ago," Mehdi Jamshidi-Dana, a deputy at the National Iranian Gas Company, was quoted as saying by IRNA.
That amounts to a total of 5.2 billion cubic meters, or nearly 2 billion cubic meters over and above the exports in the same period of the previous year, the official said, without providing details on the value of exports.
Turkey has been the largest buyer of Iranian gas for years. The Eurasian nation signed a 25-year deal in 1996 to take in up to 10 billion cubic meters of the fossil fuel from Iran annually through a pipeline, Financial Tribune reported.
But the better export numbers are partially owed to gas deliveries to Iraq, which began in the second half of June. According to NIGC, exports began at a rate of 5 million cubic meters a day, but is planned to reach 25 mcm/d in 2018 before topping out at 50 mcm/d in 2020. If all goes according to plan, Iraq could topple Turkey as the largest Iranian gas importer.
Data on Iran's outbound gas supply could be more impressive had it not been for high natural gas demand at home.
According to Jamshidi-Dana, close to 31.6 billion cubic meters of natural gas, or 204 mcm/d, were used for power generation in the five-month period, down 5% from the same spell last year, while consumption of major industries totaled 100 mcm/d, or 15.5 billion cubic meters.
Iran has embarked on diversifying its gas market on the back of increasing output from South Pars, a major natural gas deposit it shares with Qatar in the Persian Gulf. Government data show the country is producing 880 million cubic meters of gas daily, more than two-thirds of which come from South Pars.
The country aims to raise output to over 1 billion cubic meters by March 2018. More than 146 bcm of natural gas were produced from South Pars in the previous fiscal year, or 400 million cubic meters daily.
Officials estimate that supplies to Turkey and Iraq can take gas exports to the feasible level of 80 million cubic meters a day if exports to Turkey reach and stabilize at the highest envisioned level.
Iran (34 trillion cubic meters) and Russia (32.6 tcm) hold the largest proven gas reserves, according to BP Statistical Review of World Energy. Latest surveys on hydrocarbon fields also show that the country's recoverable natural gas reserves have risen by 283 billion cubic meters.