Supplies of Iranian gas to Turkey will begin a year earlier than planned, Iranian Oil Minister Gholamreza Aqazadeh said on 5 November in Ankara. The two countries signed the $23,000 million, 23- year agreement in August (MEED 23:8:96). Tenders will be issued by the end of November and construction of a pipeline will start in March 1997.

The first 3,000 million cubic metres (mcm) will be supplied in 1998, the supplies thereafter rising to 10,000 mcm a year by 2005, Aqazadeh said. Under the agreement. Iran will supply a total of 190,000 mcm of gas.

Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan said on 4 November that Turkey’s deprived eastern and south-eastern regions will receive the gas for heating and to fuel new power stations. Erbakan signed the agreement apparently flouting the US boycott on Iran on his first official visit abroad.

Turkey did not tailor its policies to US desires, Energy & Natural Resources Minister Recai Kutan stressed on 5 November. The country’s own interests were more important, he said.

Kutan also noted Turkey’s present energy deficiencies could get worse if present gas imports from Russia and Algeria, among other countries, were not supplemented.

Aqazadeh on 5 November also signed a protocol with Kutan for the construction scheduling of a pipeline to transport the gas. The project’s total cost has been estimated at about $1,100 million.

The pipeline’s initial section of about 520 kilometres will run between Tabriz in Iran and the eastern city of Erzurum in Turkey, Kutan said. Construction of the Turkish portion of the initial section will be handled by state pipeline and gas agency Botas, and a power station fuelled by the gas will be constructed in Erzurum, he added.