Energy officials from the two countries were meeting in Yerevan on Tuesday to work out the remaining practical modalities of the deliveries that will ease Armenia’s heavy dependence on Russian energy resources.
The Iranian side was led by Seyyed Reza Kasaiizadeh, managing director of the National Iranian Gas Export Company. “The Tehran Times” daily quoted Kasaiizadeh as saying ahead of his trip to Yerevan that his company will start gas shipments to Armenia this week.
A spokesman for the Armenian Energy Ministry confirmed this. “The delegations are discussing work regimes and further processes,” Lusine Harutiunian told RFE/RL. “In all likelihood, gas deliveries will gradually start already on Tuesday.”
According to Kasaiizadeh, the daily volume of those deliveries will initially stand at around 2 million cubic meters and could rise to 4 million cubic meters in 2011.
Armenia and Iran formally agreed on the gas supplies in 2004. The second and final Armenian section of the gas pipeline connecting them was inaugurated last December. The pipeline’s annual capacity of about 2.3 billion cubic meters essentially matches the current level of Russian gas supplies that already meet Armenia’s basic energy needs.
Under the 2004 agreement, Armenia will use Iranian gas for generating electricity that will be exported to the Islamic Republic in payment for the gas imports. The two countries are due to build a third high-voltage power transmission line linking their power grids for that purpose.
The final Armenian-Iranian gas talks come one month after President Serzh Sarkisian’s official visit to Iran that brought Yerevan and Tehran closer to implementing other large-scale bilateral projects. One of them envisages the construction of a large hydro-electric plant on the river Arax that marks the Armenian-Iranian border.
More importantly, the two governments agreed to press ahead with the construction of a railway that will link Armenia to Iran. Armenian Transport Minister Gurgen Sargsian said recently that Yerevan will receive a $400 million Iranian government loan to finance the ambitious project. Its total cost is estimated at between $1.2 billion and $1.8 billion.