As Iran prepares to emerge from the shadow of international sanctions, plans for deeper cooperation in the energy sector are moving forward, including a potential deal with Russia for a gas swap for deliveries to Armenia.
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Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said late Tuesday his company was in talks with Iran on the matter, the corporate press office said.
Relations between Moscow and Tehran have become closer in the past year, both in terms of mutual trade and cooperation developing oil and gas fields.
The idea of swap deals for gas supplies has been raised in the past given that both Russia and Iran are able to deliver gas to neighboring markets.
Gazprom currently supplies gas to Armenia via Georgia, but it could be more efficient for supplies to Armenia to come from Iran which has a direct border with Armenia, eliminating the need for gas to transit a third country.
Russian gas deliveries to Armenia were part of talks between Miller and Georgia's energy minister Kakhaber Kaladze in Luxembourg on Tuesday, Gazprom said.
"The issue of gas transit to Armenia was discussed. We are currently studying swap deals with our Iranian colleagues," Miller said, according to Gazprom's press office. He did not gave further details.
Apart from transit issues, Miller and Kaladze also discussed commercial deliveries to Georgia, Gazprom said.
Gazprom delivered 0.3 Bcm of gas to Georgia in 2014.
RUSSIA, IRAN COOPERATION
In October, Russian energy minister Alexander Novak visited Tehran with a delegation including representatives from gas producers Gazprom and Novatek.
Russian companies' involvement in Iran has been limited in recent years by sanctions imposed over Tehran's nuclear program.
With the restrictions set to be lifted, Russia is preparing to boost cooperation with a country where it sees big potential in terms of oil and gas reserves.
Gazprom suggested in October not only taking part in field development, but also organizing swap supplies of gas to northern Iran, which would spare the state the extra costs of transporting gas from south to north.
Novak said Russia could supply gas to northern Iran and receive gas from southern Iran in return.
Russia and Iran are also still considering a so-called oil-for-goods deal, initially agreed last year, to help Tehran market additional oil volumes on international markets.
A memorandum was signed in September last year under which Russia would supply goods, oil equipment and services to Iran in exchange for Iranian oil.
Discussions on the form of those crude deliveries are expected to become clearer once sanctions against Iran are lifted at the beginning of 2016.
--Stuart Elliott, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Nadia Rodova, email@example.com
--Edited by Jeremy Lovell, firstname.lastname@example.org