“Analysis: Iran, Syria in gas deal,” by Derek Sands

Analysis: Iran, Syria in gas deal

Published: Oct. 15, 2007 at 7:25 PM

UPI Energy Correspondent
WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 (UPI) — A $1 billion deal to pipe natural gas to Syria from Iran announced in early October signals increasing ties between the two foes of the United States, and its path through Turkey could inflame tensions at a time when U.S.-Turkish relations are strained.

Iran plans to export about 100 billion cubic feet of natural gas to Syria every year, according to Iranian state-run media. The deal would require the gas to be transported through Turkey by pipeline, a situation that could hurt U.S. efforts to isolate the energy economy of Iran.

But Iran's ability to supply Syria with that much natural gas remains unclear. In the winter of 2006, domestic shortages forced Iran to stop major natural gas shipments to Turkey, causing Ankara to turn to Moscow for supplies. Turkey, which faces its own increasing natural gas demand, has shown interest in investing in Iran's massive South Pars field and has been importing between 100 billion and 150 billion cubic feet of natural gas from Iran since the Iran-Turkey pipeline was built in 2001.

Iran is desperate for investment needed to develop its natural gas reserves, especially the South Pars field in the Persian Gulf, estimated to be home to about 280 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Under pressure from the United States, and more recently France, many international petroleum companies are hesitant to invest in South Pars development.

Syria holds 8.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and while it is hoping to increase its production, for the time being it uses all of the roughly 250 billion cubic feet it produces annually, according to the Energy Information Administration, the data arm of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Iran sits on the world's second-largest natural gas deposits after Russia, 974 trillion cubic feet, but has the lowest production in the Persian Gulf.

Washington has been unambiguous that it does not support any investment that helps Iran, especially when it comes from allies such as Turkey.

“Undersecretary Burns made clear in his recent visit there, we certainly don't think it's an appropriate moment for any country to be expanding its economic activities in Iran. The international community needs to have full support from all its members to be able to convince Iran to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions, and we'd certainly like to see Turkey fully cooperating in that regard,” U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said after Nicolas Burns, number two at the State Department, visited Turkey in September.

U.S. relations with Turkey have been under increasing stress in the past week after the Armenian Genocide Resolution, H.R. 116, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. ….

Comments (3)

Dick Durata said:

How far Turkey is willing to go off the reservation seems like a new variable in ME equations.
I’m not convinced it will happen, the Armenian resolution seems very orchestrated and for unknown reasons, but I do think that Turkey sees a dangerous power vacuum developing in Iraq, and a US that is too distracted or incompetent to keep a handle on the situation.
If Turkey is really rethinking their strategic relationships in the ME, it’s the big story of the year. Maybe SyriaComment needs to spin off a TurkeyComment?

October 16th, 2007, 4:11 am


why-discuss said:

Turkey seems to be moving closer to the arab/iranian sphere as it’s been snubbed by the Europeans for the EU and provoked in their nationalistic pride by being accused of genocide by France and the USA. In contrast Iran and Syria share its concern of the threat of Kurdish separatists, and both country offer a huge market for turkish industries. Already turkish goods are flooding the arab countries who are generally much less industrialized than Turkey. Therefore it is not surprising that Turkey start a rapprochement with moslems neigbors, despite US protests. I believe that the USA has little leverage on Turkey’s foreign policy.

October 16th, 2007, 4:14 am


Wassim said:

With talk of Turkey’s possible retaliation to the recent attack on it’s soldiers, is it not a possibility that Turkey may seek some accomodation with Iran and Syria over the Kurdish issue? Both have an enormous leverage on various groups historically and all three would be against the creation of a Kurdish national state in Iraq once the United States leaves. It looks more and more like Turkey is looking East now.

October 16th, 2007, 12:18 pm


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