AFP; Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom is keen to participate in a pipeline to carry Iranian gas to Pakistan, the Kommersant daily reported on Wednesday, citing company and government officials.
MOSCOW (AFP) — Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom is keen to participate in a pipeline to carry Iranian gas to Pakistan, the Kommersant daily reported on Wednesday, citing company and government officials.
"We are ready to join the project as soon as we receive an offer," Russia's deputy energy minister Anatoly Yankovsky told the daily.
The paper quoted another top government official as saying Moscow sees the pipeline as a means to divert Iranian gas from competing with Russian exports on the European market.
"This project is advantageous to Moscow since its realisation would carry Iranian gas toward South Asian markets so that in the near future it would not compete with Russian gas to Europe," Kommersant wrote.
Russian exports satisfy over one quarter of Europe's gas needs, but the European Union has sought to lessen its dependence with the construction of the Nabucco pipeline to pump Caspian Sea gas to Europe which would bypass Russia.
The multi-billion dollar Iran-Pakistan pipeline, which aims to pump an initial 11 billion cubic metres of Iranian gas per year to Pakistan, could deprive the Nabucco project of one possible source for gas supplies.
Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupryanov confirmed the company's interest in the project, Kommersant reported.
It cited an unnamed official in the company as saying Gazprom could serve as the pipeline operator or also participate in its construction.
The start date for construction of the much-delayed pipeline is planned for september 2009 to be completed in June 2014, the paper reported.
Iranian officials have said the supply of gas to Pakistan could begin in three to four years.
The pipeline project, when initially mooted in 1994, had proposed to carry gas from Iran to Pakistan and India. But India withdrew last year from the talks over repeated disputes on prices and transit fees.
The 900-kilometre (560-mile) pipeline is being built between Asalooyeh in southern Iran and Iranshahr near the border with Pakistan and will carry the gas from Iran's South Pars field.
Iranian officials said Monday that the final contract would be signed in three weeks.