INTERNATIONAL

Iran cements ties with neighbours with gas deal

Iran has cemented its ties with regional allies Iraq and Syria with a massive deal that will transfer gas from Iranian gas fields to the Lebanese coast, with the possibility of exports to Europe.

Iran's state-run Press TV reported that on Monday, Iran, Iraq and Syria signed the $10-billion gas pipeline deal which would take gas to Europe.

Analysts say the deal sends a big signal to Syria, which is facing huge protests after the advent of the Arab Spring — a string of regional pro-democracy uprisings — that Iran would stand by the regime led by President Bashar al-Assad.

The gas will be drawn from Iran's South Pars field. Iraq, till 2020, will get 10 to 15 million cubic metres daily. Syria will get around 15 to 20 million cubic metres and Lebanon's share stands at around seven million cubic metres. Around 110 million cubic metres would be shipped for export.

The pipeline project is likely to be completed within the next three to five years.

Iran's Deputy Oil Minister Javad Owji was quoted as saying that Iran could produce 600 million cubic metres of gas daily, and that supplies could be doubled in the next few years once new phases being developed in South Pars begin to feed in additional gas.

The pipeline will pass through a contiguous geographical zone, starting from Iran and passing through neighbouring Iraq and Syria, all the way to Lebanon's Mediterranean coast.

Iran has the second largest gas reserves after Russia.

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