EghtesadOnline: Expanding gas export via pipelines is not on the agenda for now but export of liquefied natural gas should be a distinct priority, a former secretary general of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum said.
“Extending gas pipelines from the southern port of Asalouyeh in the Persian Gulf in Bushehr Province to neighboring states has always been marred by political issues (sanctions and wars) and, in optimistic terms, may work only for a short term,” Mohammad Hossein Adeli was quoted as saying by ILNA.
Instead LNG can be exported easier and more flexibly as it has bigger international markets, he said.
“If we had LNG, we could export it not only to Pakistan but also to Europe,” he said, adding that unlike piped gas the future for LNG export is promising, Financial Tribune reported.
Iran should focus on LNG exports, as shipment of liquefied gas is less risky compared to piped exports and more cost-effective for faraway destinations. But it seems there is no consensus among senior officials and policymakers on this subject.
"So long as Iranian officials do not adopt a unified policy on this issue, devising a long-term roadmap to attract investment to complete ongoing plans will be next to impossible," he said.
Referring to the failure of major projects like the Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline Project—aka Peace Pipeline -- (delayed for more than 10 years due to US pressure on Islamabad), he said large volumes of LNG in the world is sold in the form of single oil cargos under spot contracts and “we could do the same”.
Not long ago, three projects, namely Persian LNG, Iran LNG and Pars LNG in Bushehr Province, were being completed but were put on hold due to funding problems.
“Had they been completed, the National Iranian Gas Company could be exporting as much as 20 million tons of LNG per year (equal to US annual LNG export),” he noted.
Despite the ground realities, Iran’s gas officials are still hopeful of the gas deal with Pakistan and India, whereas investing in liquefied forms could have yielded more desirable results, especially in the long-term.
LNG accounts for 31% of the global gas trade, of which 70% is carried out in Asia and the Middle East. There are currently 60 LNG terminals in Asia with 40 others in the pipeline.
"The LNG industry paves the way for entering new markets, access to which is not feasible through pipelines,” he said.
Iran holds the world’s second biggest natural gas reserves after Russia, and the fourth-largest known oil reserves. It is home to 17% of the world's proven natural gas reserves and more than one-third of OPEC reserves.
The world's largest natural gas field, South Pars, is shared between Iran and Qatar and is estimated to hold roughly 40% of Iran's gas reserves. Qatar is currently the biggest LNG producer in the Middle East and ships 77 million tons of the fuel per annum.
Iran currently supplies close to 50 million cubic meters of gas per day to its neighbors Iraq and Turkey via pipeline and to Armenia by road.