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Iran conditionally agrees to drop gas price for Turkey: report

Tehran, July 10, IRNA -- Iran has agreed to reduce the price of natural gas which it sells to Turkey provided Ankara helps Tehran transport its gas to Europe, a Turkish press report said Saturday.

According to the daily Zaman, the discount was agreed last week in Turkey during Turkish officials' meetings with Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh.

Iran's National Gas Exports manager Roknuddin Javadi disclosed that Turkey had been asking for a price discount for long, according to the paper.

Javadi acknowledged that the new gas reserves found in southern Iran had played an important role in the price reduction, although there are still strings attached.

"Javadi pointed out that the new prices would only be put into effect if Turkey agreed to help Iran export gas to Europe," Zaman added.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected in Tehran on July 28 and 29.

According to press reports, oil price discounts and the transportation of Iranian gas via Turkey to Europe will be among the main topics for discussion between him and Iranian officials.

The two countries' multi-billion-dollar gas cooperation has been dogged by a series of spat over prices and quality.

Last year, Ankara halted gas imports from Iran on the ground that the quality of the imported gas was not in line with the contract requirements.

Iran rejected Turkish claims that the imported gas was poor in quality, with Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh saying the snag had been invoked by Russia's offer of cheaper gas.

The two countries signed an agreement during the tenure of Turkey's former prime minister Necmettin Erbakan in 1996 for the supply of Iranian gas for 25 years.

The gas flow was launched in December 2001 via a 2,577-kilometer pipeline, running from the northeastern city of Tabriz to Ankara, which supplies gas from southern Iran near the Persian Gulf.

The contract has been a boon to Iran's bid to become a sustainable gas supplier to Turkey and Europe.

Looking for alternative markets, Tehran has also held talks with the Persian Gulf littoral states and the Central Asian nations for the sale of gas.

The country sits on the second largest proven gas reserves of the world after Russia, which has been a headache for Iran by getting into, what is feared to be, an unnecessary and costly competition.

... Payvand News - 7/10/04 ... --

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