Greece and Iran to sign natural gas deal

Mar 12, 2002 01:00 AM

Greece and Iran will sign a natural gas deal during a visit by Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, the government said. Khatami will also discuss ways to improve trade relations and cultural exchanges during the three-day trip.

But the top issue appears to be efforts to bring Iranian natural gas to the European Union market by extending an existing pipeline in Turkey. Such a plan would help Greece ease a growing energy deficit and give Iran a potentially lucrative foothold in Europe as it struggles with a slumping economy.
Khatami, who began his European trip in Austria, will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, Minister of Industries and Mines Ishaq Jahangiri and Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh. Zanganeh said during a January visit that Greece and Iran will seek to extend a pipeline that now ends near Ankara, Turkey.

Iranian natural gas began to flow to Turkey in December through the 2,577 km (1,598-mile) pipeline. It could be extended to about 650 km (390 miles) to the Greek-Turkish border and linked to Greece's natural gas network. Iran has the world's second-largest natural gas reserves, with 17 % of the estimated reserves.
Iranian gas output is to rise to over 500 mm cmpd by 2005, compared with 300 mm cmpd now. Khatami also plans talks with President Costis Stephanopoulos, Premier Costas Simitis, political leaders and Archbishop Christodoulos, leader of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Source: AP
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