12 Jan 2024 16:47

Swap supplies of Turkmen gas to Azerbaijan via Iran do not violate sanctions - U.S. ambassador

ASHGABAT. Jan 12 (Interfax) - Swap supplies of Turkmen gas through Iran do not violate anti-Iranian sanctions, U.S. Ambassador to Turkmenistan Matthew Klimow said at a press conference in Ashgabat on Thursday.

Asked how the United States would react to supplies of Turkmen gas to Turkey in transit through Iran, Klimow said: "This depends on many factors. For example, the transmission of gas to Azerbaijan in a swap via Iran does not breach sanctions, so it will depend on how this deal is structured.

He said it was "very smart on Turkmenistan's part to diversify its oil or gas supplies to the west, as well as to the east and south."

He welcomed the initiative to build a Trans-Caspian gas pipeline, subject to interest from Europe. "I believe that it is also very smart to build a gas pipeline through the Caspian Sea. And from an engineering point of view, this should not be a big problem. Political and economic assessments must be carried out to deliver such a project, and there has to be interest from countries of the Caspian region and from Europe," he said.

Iran, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan signed a gas swap deal in November 2021 for Tehran to supply Baku with 1.5-2 billion cubic meters of Turkmen gas per year. The deliveries began in January 2022 at 5-6 million cubic meters per day rising to 7 mcm by March that year. Iran and Azerbaijan agreed to double annual gas supplies from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan through the Iranian pipeline system in June 2022.

The possibility of supplying Turkmen natural gas to the Turkish market via Iran was discussed at a meeting of the intergovernmental Turkmen-Turkish Commission on Economic Cooperation in Ashgabat at the beginning of December.

Turkmenistan has been in talks with Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia and the European Union for several years over the possibility of building a Trans-Caspian pipeline with an annual capacity of between 10 billion and 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas. Commenting on the project recently, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said it was unlikely to be implemented until there was clarity about sources of its funding. Earlier, he had said that the pipeline was not an Azerbaijani project and that his country's role was merely a transit one.

Moscow and Tehran opposed the project for a long time. However, in August 2018, the presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Iran met in Aktau, Kazakhstan and signed a convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea. Under the document, building a pipeline on the Caspian Sea bed would not require consent of all littoral states but only those where the pipeline was to pass. In the case of the Trans-Caspian pipeline, these are Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.