Sultan Qaboos' visit to Iran marks big boost to energy ties
During his visit to Tehran, Sultan Qaboos Bin Said of Oman conducted talks with President Hassan Rohani of the Islamic Republic of Iran during which they discussed supporting the existing bilateral cooperation between the Sultanate and the Islamic Republic of Iran in all spheres to serve the interests of the two friendly peoples.
Sultan Qaboos affirmed that the meeting with President Rohani was a good opportunity to enhance the Omani-Iranian strong relations and strengthening the cooperation between the two countries, Global Arab Network reports.
Agreement on gas pipeline
On the sidelines of the visit, the governments of the Sultanate and Iran signed a number of agreements of co-operation in the fields of oil and gas. The agreements were signed by Dr Mohammed bin Hamad al Rumhy, Minister of Oil and Gas, and Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh. Al Rumhy said in a statement after the signing ceremony that the agreements enhance earlier pacts. The projects include one about the gas pipeline from Iran to the Sultanate and studies on the pact will be finalised shortly.
The two sides agreed to start construction operation on the gas pipeline from Iran to Oman when procedures are completed. Iran’s oil minister spoke about a standard duration of 25 years for the gas agreement.
The signing of the pact is among one of the most important achievements of the three-day visit to Iran. This came in a statement by Iran Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif during his meeting with Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdallah, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs. He stressed the importance of boosting bilateral, multilateral and regional cooperation to reach that end. Zarif reiterated that the current visit to Iran would lead to further promotion of bilateral relations. The Iranian foreign minister further stressed implementation of transit agreement inked by Iran, Oman, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, saying the agreement would benefit the whole region.
On his part, Alawi said that further expansion of regional cooperation would help settle regional issues. Alawi called for serious efforts to make the transit project operational. Alawi described the project as important is a centre-piece in regional transit. The two ministers also discussed the latest regional developments, and expressed concern over growing tension in Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Tunisia and Bahrain.
Big boost to energy ties
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh confirmed that Iran will begin exporting gas to Oman in the near future. It is not clear how much gas will be exported, but the Sultanate had earlier showed interest in importing more than two billion cubic metres of Iran gas per day.
Iran and Oman have decided to pursue greater co-operation in the oil and gas sector, which augurs well for both as it will certainly mark the opening of a new chapter of mutual co-operation.
Iran, which sits on the world’s second largest natural gas reserves after Russia, has been trying to enhance its gas production by increasing foreign and domestic investment. According to Tehran’s official estimates, Iran’s proven natural gas reserves at about 29.61 trillion cubic metres or about 15.8 per cent of world’s total reserves.
According to some reports, Tehran will start gas exports to Oman through a seabed gas pipeline. Experts say this project has the potential to change the political dynamic of the Gulf region. By opting for this project across the historic Straits of Hormuz through an undersea natural gas pipeline to transmit Iranian energy westwards, Oman has taken a strategic step that underlines its visionary and farsighted approach in decision-making.
The two sides had already signed an initial contract covering the general terms of the natural gas transit arrangements. The project builds upon a 2009 agreement under which Iran and Oman signed a deal to jointly develop an underwater 120-mile pipeline from Iran to Musandam and Sohar in Oman.
Iran’s IGAT-7 Seventh Gas Trunkline has been extended up to Iranshahr city in Sistan-Baluchestan province and is being extended to Chabahar, from where it goes towards Iran-Pakistan border, where another line will transfer gas to Oman.
Another promising area in which the two sides have been developing and deepening co-operation is the International North-South Corridor, which will facilitate transportation of goods from Central Asia to the Gulf region.
Iran and Oman have stressed the need for completion of the North-South Corridor to realise the benefits the cargo transit project can offer to the region. The North-South Corridor will link Uzen in Kazakhstan with Gyzylgaya-Bereket-Etrek in Turkmenistan and end at Gorgan in Iran’s province of Golestan.Then it will be connected to Iran’s national rail network, making its way to the Gulf ports.
The 900-km railroad will facilitate the transportation of goods from Central Asia to the Gulf, and will also link Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to Iran. During a meeting in Tehran on Sunday, the two sides expressed satisfaction with the development of the railway project. In May 2011, Iran officially inaugurated the segment of the railroad connecting Gorgan to the town of Incheh Borun along the border with Turkmenistan.Once completed, three to five million tonnes of cargo will be transported through the route annually. The figure could reach to as high as 12 million tonnes.
By: Shahid Abaas