EghtesadOnline: Expanding national gas grid in small towns and villages can help increase the wave of "reverse migration"—from bigger cities to nearby smaller towns and suburban areas.
Mazandaran’s Governor General Ahmad Hossein-Zadegan made the statement last week in a ceremony to inaugurate natural gas projects in Alasht, a city of Savadkouh County in Mazandaran Province.
According to the official, providing residents in rural areas with natural gas can not only develop infrastructure, but also create much-needed employment that will result in economic prosperity in the long term.
"Economic stagnation will not be the country's Achilles' heel during sanctions, if the infrastructure for power and gas grids is expanded in the country," Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.
The ceremony was also attended by Hassan Montazer-Torbati, the head of National Iranian Gas Company, who noted that the venture to supply Alasht and seven other villages, namely Golyan, Shahriar Kala, Serin, Lind, Krikla, Kolarijan and Parsi, cost $5.7 million.
Giving a breakdown, he added that the project entailed laying 50 kilometers of high-pressure pipelines in a mountainous area (3,000 kilometers above sea-level) and installing three gas pressure-reducing stations.
The official noted that all the cities of the province and close to 92.5% of village dwellers have so far been connected to the network.
“An estimated 40 more small towns or 6,000 households are expected to be connected to the grid by March 2020,” Torbati added.
According to Saeed Momeni, the National Iranian Gas Company’s deputy for gas supply, about 1,148 cities have been linked to the national gas grid in the past four decades.
"Power plants, which comprise 11% of the country's energy basket, bought 70 billion cubic meters of gas in the period," he said.
There are 84 big power stations in the country, two of which (Chabahar and Konarak) in Sistan-Baluchestan Province are not connected to the national gas grid yet.
Referring to the household sector, the official said it accounted for 52 bcm of the gas consumption in the period. The rest was either exported or delivered to big industries, namely steel, cement or petrochemical plants.
"The share of gas in the domestic energy basket has surpassed 70%," he said.
Iraq, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic accounted for 13 million cubic meters, 1.5 mcm, 1.4 mcm and 700,000 cubic meters respectively.
Holding 34 trillion cubic meters of gas, Iran has the largest proven gas reserves in the world, according to BP Statistical Review of World Energy.
Hydrocarbon surveys show that the country's recoverable natural gas reserves have risen by 283 billion cubic meters.
“Close to 240 billion cubic meters of natural gas—averaging 655 million cubic meters/day—were supplied via the national gas grid in the last fiscal year that ended on March 20, 2019,” Saeed Tavakkoli, the head of the National Iranian Gas Transmission Company, said.
"A record 762 mcm of gas were transferred domestically on Dec. 14, 2018, topping the previous high of 746 mcm on February 8, 2017," he said.
Expanding the gas pipeline network by at least 600 kilometers is a priority for NIGTC in the current year.