Tehran, June 8, IRNA-Iran is pursuing serious plans to encourage Russia to export its Caspian crude through the Persian Gulf swap scheme in what appears to be a direct challenge to the US-backed Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline project.
Local press reported on Wednesday that Iran has offered to conclude 25-year swap deals with Russian companies for delivering as much as 300,000 barrels of Caspian crude at its northern Neka port and receiving an equal volume at the Persian Gulf ports.
Deputy Oil Minister for International Affairs, Hadi Nejad-Hosseinian, said he has raised the proposal in his recent visit to Moscow and that a working committee has been formed to pursue the issue.
Nejad-Hosseinian said Iran currently has the capacity to receive a daily of 170,000 barrels of crude oil at Neka port and that this can be raised to as high as 700,000 barrels in case there is a permanent customer.
The official was quoted by the Persian-language newspaper `Jahan-e San'at' as saying that Russia's LukOil can currently deliver 120,000 barrels of oil at Neka port.
He added if Iran succeeds in concluding long-term swap deals with Russia to increase that capacity to as high as 300,000 barrels a day, the swap of crude oil from Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan via Iran will be economically justifiable considering the high costs of exporting crude from those countries through the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline.
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