EghtesadOnline: Iran and Armenia explored grounds to develop closer collaboration in energy projects in a meeting between Hamidreza Araqi, managing director of National Iranian Gas Company, and Armenian Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan in Yerevan on Wednesday.
The meeting was aimed at finding ways of expanding cooperation in electricity, water as well as technical and engineering sectors, IRNA reported, adding that the two sides highlighted the importance of completing a third power transmission line between the two countries.
Iran is connected to Armenia through two electricity lines and a third is under construction. The two countries have different seasons of peak electricity demand. Iran exports electricity to Armenia in winter and imports it when domestic demand soars in summer.
Pointing to the strategic plan, Araqi added that Iran's electricity exchange with Armenia would increase fourfold to around 1,200 megawatts once the construction of the third power transmission line is complete, Financial Tribune reported.
"The energy corridor between Yerevan and Tehran is of major importance and the new electricity line will have a profound effect on the two states' trade ties," he said, noting that other regional countries can also play a role in undertaking the venture.
"The power line, to be completed by the end of next year at an estimated cost of $107 million, is part of an agreement between Iran, Russia, Armenia and Georgia to synchronize their power grids by 2019, paving the way for electricity exchange between Tehran and Moscow as part of their expansive cooperation plans," he added.
According to Karapetyan, free trade zones in Armenia can be used as gateways to help Iran export its commodities to Eurasian countries as well as Russia.
"Iran's private sector can perform a key role not only in developing the zones but also in completing unfinished energy ventures in Armenia," he said.
Referring to his recent trip to Iran in October, Karapetyan expressed his country's willingness to expand energy cooperation with Iran.
"Iran and Armenia have friendly relations in various fields, including transportation and energy," he said, noting that promoting cooperation with the neighboring state in gas and power sectors is high on the agenda.
Pointing to the long-term economic ties between the two countries, Karapetyan attached importance to exchanging electricity for natural gas with Iran.
The two nations are part of a plan to synchronize their power grids with Russia and Georgia.
"The important aspect in connecting the four power networks is enhancing transmission capacity between Armenia and Georgia. We hope that Iranian companies will play a role in this," Karapetyan said.
The synchronization project is seen as building block of a highly ambitious plan to build a major power network in the Caspian Sea region that would enable more than 30 countries to exchange electricity.
The idea for the so-called Caspian Energy Network was initially proposed by the National Iranian Gas Company in a conference in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, two years ago, where Tehran pushed for closer energy cooperation in the region.
According to the managing director of Yerevan thermal power plant, Sassan Khachaturian, increasing imports of natural gas is on Armenia's priority list as the country plans to increase electricity export to oil and gas-rich Iran.
Iran's gas supply to Armenia is seasonal and Turkey is the only country that purchases Iranian gas throughout the year under a long-term contract.
"Armenia is ready to export more electricity to Iran during the hot summer days," Khachaturian said, calling for more gas import from Iran to meet his country's demand in winter.