Source: Press TV
The European Commission estimates that Iran could become a major natural gas supplier to the European Union by the next decade, a new report says. According to an EU official, cited by the Wall Street Journal, the bloc could import up to 35 billion cubic meters of gas a year from Iran by 2030 that would help reduce dependence on Russian shipments.
The conclusion of nuclear talks with Iran has set off a race among the Europeans to search for new business opportunities in the energy-rich country which owns the world's largest natural gas reserves.
According to the Journal, EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete met representatives of major European energy companies last week to encourage them "to actively pursue ties in Iran".
"We want our companies to go there and invest big time before the Americans and the Chinese," the paper quoted the unnamed official as telling delegates from BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Repsol, Total, Statoil, E.ON, RWE and Energie.
EU leaders "were trying to make sure that European companies aren't feeling constrained to go along", the official added.
A European Commission spokeswoman said the EU will look into starting a high-level energy dialog with Iran "when the conditions are right", the Journal reported.
European officials, cited by the paper, said work has been accelerating behind the scenes in recent months.
Under an initial plan, the bulk of the gas imported from Iran would be shipped to Europe in the form of liquefied natural gas via Spain which currently has the biggest LNG import capacity in the EU, the official said.
Iran's energy officials have also indicated that LNG would be more viable than piping gas to Europe because of the distance issue but stressed that the Asian market is the country's top priority for exports for now.
The Europeans, however, prodded by an urgency to reduce reliance on Russia which supplies 130 billion cubic meters to the continent a year, are more enthusiastic to push forth the Iran option.
EU's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, has announced plans to open a European Union mission in Tehran on the back of informal talks which have already started to shape future relations with Iran.
According to the Journal, Mogherini will meet her Iranian counterparts on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York later this month to continue these efforts.
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