Hamid Reza Araqi told Ministry of Petroleum’s SHANA news agency on Wednesday that negotiations over Europe gas exports were conducted with some European companies taking part in the 20th International Oil, Gas, Refining and Petrochemical Exhibition and will continue with a number of other European countries next month.
The official, however, did not mention the exact date or venue of the talks.
Araqi, who is also managing director of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), added that his company is in talks with foreign investors willing to invest in Iranian gas pipeline projects, but no agreement has been signed so far.
“These companies are conducting negotiations [with NIGC] to discuss financing and investment” in Iran's gas pipeline projects, he added.
Managing Director of the National Iranian Gas Company Hamid Reza Araqi
Araqi’s comments came after Fars news agency’s report, which quoted an anonymous informed source as saying that the European Union has started “unofficial talks" with Iran for imports of gas.
The report added that some Caspian littoral states have also asked Iran to join a network of pipelines which is being built to transfer natural gas to Europe.
During past years, the Islamic Republic has been making efforts to increase gas production and exports by attracting foreign and domestic investment to South Pars gas field.
The huge offshore field covers an area of 9,700 square kilometers, 3,700 square kilometers of which are in Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf. The remaining 6,000 square kilometers are situated in Qatar’s territorial waters.
The field is estimated to contain a significant amount of natural gas, accounting for about eight percent of the world’s reserves, and approximately 18 billion barrels of condensate.
In late April, Ministry of Petroleum’s SHANA news agency reported that Iran's gas exports have increased by more than one million cubic meters (mcm) during the first 11 months of the previous Iranian calendar year (ended March 20, 2015) compared to the corresponding period a year before.
The report added that Iran's average gas exports from 2011 to 2013 amounted to 25.4 mcm, 25.5 mcm, and 26 mcm, respectively, and the figure is expected to further increase during the current Iranian year (started March 21, 2015).
The country is currently exporting gas to Turkey and is set to start gas exports to its western neighbor, Iraq, by May.
On April 12, Araqi was quoted by SHANA as saying that the Islamic Republic is ready to export natural gas to Kuwait via a pipeline, which is being built to transfer Iran's gas to Iraq.