Iran to EU: Hey, we’d be happy to supply you with your natural gas needs…
posted at 1:21 pm on May 19, 2014 by Erika Johnsen
Iran has the fourth-largest proven oil reserves in the world along with the second-largest proven natural gas reserves, and the international sanctions that have been crippling their energy-reliant revenue stream and economic growth (at least, they were until the Obama administration started lifting them in exchange for diddly squat, that is) have proven to be quite a nuisance — which is precisely why Iran has lately been taking the opportunity afforded by Russia’s aggression with Ukraine to remind the European Union that they have a whole bunch of ready reserves just waiting to be tapped. Europe gets about a third of its natural-gas supplies from Russia, a lot of which currently flows through pipelines in Ukraine; Europeans are starting to consider building up their import infrastructure and even doing their own fracking, but in the meantime, the threat of future supply disruption still looms as a possibility as the EU tries to work with Russia to settle on a deal. Iran is hoping that this newfound focus on diversified supply sources to enhance energy security will create a new willingness in the EU to perhaps cut them some more slack on the sanctions:
Amid rising tensions between the European Union and Moscow over Ukraine, Iranian oil officials have repeatedly said Tehran is ready to supply natural gas to Europe, which currently gets 30 percent of its gas imports from Russia. …
But Iran may hope the energy offer will add incentives for lifting the international sanctions as Tehran and world powers hold talks in Vienna this week aimed at solving the nuclear crisis.
Ghoncheh Tazimi, a scholar at SOAS in London, says “Iran’s case has been somewhat strengthened with the Ukraine crisis” because Tehran is “able to shape the future energy market” and help Europe diversify away from Russia. …
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said May 3 that “as a country that has the capacity to supply gas in large volumes, Iran is always willing to export natural gas to Europe via pipeline or in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG).”
On May 14, Iranian Deputy Oil Minister for International and Trade Affairs Ali Majedi suggested Europe could import Iranian gas by pipeline through Turkey and that the level of exports could range from 4 million cubic meters per day to 50.
The one major, glaring caveat to Iran’s pointed suggestions is that Iran actually isn’t technically “ready” to supply natural gas to Europe. Iran has been closed off over the years from a lot of the type of foreign investments that would allow it to update and expand its currently underdeveloped energy production to the necessary degree. Even if every economic sanction was lifted tomorrow, the capital, infrastructure, and technology they would need to start exporting natural gas to Europe could take just as long if not longer than the investments Europe needs to make to frack their own shale reserves and to import from the United States, Australia, and others — but Europe does want to diversify its supplies, and Iran definitely wants the cash.