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Iran agrees to increase gas exports to Turkey: report

Iran has agreed to a recent request by Turkey to increase gas exports to the country despite a last month dispute between the two countries over gas prices, IRNA reported from Tehran on Saturday quoting the local press.

The Persian-language newspaper 'Tosse'eh' quoted Asghar Soheilipour, an advisor to the managing director of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), as saying that Turkey had announced that it would need more gas from the Islamic Republic with the start of winter.

The increase, Soheilipour added, would bring Iran's annual exports of gas in the current Iranian calendar year of 1382 (ending March 19, 2004) to over three billion cubic meters.

He said Iran's gas exports to Turkey over a period of six months starting March 21 stood at 1.3 billion cubic meters, stressing that Turkey had used Iran's gas "as much as it had requested" over the period.

"There has been no problem in Iran's gas exports to Turkey," Soheilipour stressed.

The remarks by the NIGC advisor follow the last month press reports that Ankara is considering to review the agreement over gas purchases from Iran on the grounds that Iran's natural gas is not cheap.

Ankara's announcement drew contradictory reactions by Iranian gas officials.

While NIGC chief Mohammad Mallaki had vowed that Tehran would not renegotiate its gas deal with Turkey, Managing Director of the National Iranian Gas Exports Company Roknoddin Javadi said that his company is considering Ankara's call on Tehran to renegotiate the gas prices.

The Islamic Republic has already been exporting natural gas to Turkey under a 30-billion-dollar deal, according to which Iran is committed to supply 10 billion cubic meters (350 billion cubic feet) of gas per year.

The two countries launched in December 2001 a 2,577-kilometer pipeline, running through the northwestern city of Tabriz to Ankara, which supplies gas from southern Iran near the Persian Gulf. The gas flow, however, hit a snag after Turkish Energy Minister Zeki Cakan announced last September that his country had halted imports because of its poor quality.

Tehran and Ankara ironed out the difference later.

... Payvand News - 11/8/03 ... --

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