Iran expects to begin exporting natural gas to neighboring Iraq by the summer of 2013, an Iranian official was quoted as saying. Iran has completed more than 25 percent of a pipeline to Iraq that could carry up to 25 million cubic metres per day of its natural gas to Iraq, Javad Owji, managing director of the National Iranian Gas Co., was quoted as saying by the Mehr news agency.
"Currently more than 25 percent of this 48-inch gas transmission pipe has been completed," Owji said.
Iranian contractors would help build the Iraqi section of the pipeline, Owji said. Mehr estimated the cost of the pipeline would be $450 million.
"With the progress in implementation of the construction of the gas pipeline in the two countries, it is expected that gas injection and the launch of the pipeline could occur by Khordad (May 22 to June 21)," Owji said.
Iran has the world's second-largest gas reserves after Russia, but development of its gas fields has been hampered by international sanctions targeting its energy sector.
Iran's voracious appetite for its own gas and the sanctions have limited its export potential, and forced it to import heating fuel during the winter from Turkmenistan.
Owji said gas extracted from Iran's offshore South Pars gas field would help feed the pipeline.
"With the operation of new phases of South Pars, surplus gas … can be exported to Iraq," Owji said.
China's national petroleum company pulled out of developing Phase 11 of South Pars, Iranian media reported in July, and Iran's national oil company has said it would replace it with domestic companies in the face of continued delays.