The first phase of a crude pipeline from Iran’s Caspian port of Neka used for oil swaps from Turkmenistan and Kazakstan is now operational, according to the National Iranian Oil Engineering and Construction Co. on January 24th.
The pipeline now carries 50,000 b/d of Central Asian crude, up from between 15,000 and 20,000 b/d previously.
Mahmoud Emamzadeh, head of the state oil engineering company, said that: “When the line is completed, it will carry 370,000 barrels of Central Asian oil per day via Iran, earning the country $270 million in hard currency annually.”
The second phase of the pipeline is expected to come on stream at the end of March. Iranian rates for swapping Turkmen and Kazak oil have been reduced as of January 1st, making Iran a more attractive transport prospect.
Iranian Deputy Oil Minister Hossein Kazampour Ardebili said earlier this month that: “With the new swap prices, oil transactions in the region will become more economic.
Regional countries planning to find alternative transport routes can now look upon Iran as the cheapest, safest and most effective option.”
Iran receives oil from Turkmenistan and Kazakstan at Neka to be used for domestic consumption in the northern region, while providing an equivalent amount of Iranian crude to their customers from export terminals in the south of the country.
Iranian President Mohammed Khatami is expected to visit Ashgabat soon to discuss natural gas contracts and increasing Turkmen exports of both oil and gas.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )