EghtesadOnline: With cold weather and rainfall descending on many regions of Iran, the residential sector is expected to drive demand for natural gas as consumers burn more fuel for heating homes.
"Household gas consumption exceeded 457 million cubic meters on Friday (Dec. 8)," Majid Boujarzadeh, spokesman of state-run gas company NIGC, was quoted as saying by Shana on Saturday.
The figure comprises nearly 50% of Iran's total gas production capacity of around 850 million cubic meters a day. That is also more than the actual output level of South Pars, a giant offshore gas deposit in the Persian Gulf.
The country produced close to 94 billion cubic meters of gas from the joint field with Qatar between March 21 and Oct. 22, or about 435 million cubic meters per day, according to data by South Pars Gas Complex, operator of the mega gas project, Financial Tribune reported.
Boujarzadeh said power plants and heavy industries consumed over 200 mcm of gas on Friday combined.
The export of clean fossil fuel was at 36.5 million cubic meters per day. Turkey and Iraq are the main customers of Iranian gas.
Iran faced an unexpected gas crisis at the beginning of the year, as Turkmenistan abruptly cut supplies to make Iran pay nine times the price of their gas contract. Iran took in limited amounts of gas from Turkmenistan in the northeast to supply gas to northern regions straddling the Caspian Sea coast.
Officials say the same will not happen this year, as the country rushed the extension of pipelines carrying South Pars gas to the north.
The overhaul of South Pars facilities has impacted output. According to reports, at least eight South Pars refineries were taken offline for maintenance operations in the last few months while major repairs at phases 9 and 10 were underway at least through the end of September.
According to Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, Iran is on pace to boost gas production to 1 billion cubic meters a day by March 2019, roughly the same time that all South Pars phases are planned to be up and running.
South Pars is being developed in 24 phases. Iran said it caught up with Qatar's rate of extraction from the joint field in April after the launch of five phases. Iran produced over 155 billion cubic meters of gas from South Pars in the fiscal 2016-17.
The country is drawing on the funding and expertise of international energy companies to complete the remaining South Pars phases.
French oil and gas major Total has signed a $5 billion deal to develop South Pars Phase 11 in collaboration with a Chinese firm and a local partner.