Iran’s state gas company has confirmed the halt in supplies of gas from Turkmenistan.

The National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) said in a statement that Turkmengaz had in an “unanticipated move” disregarded a 20-year old agreement to supply gas to Iran’s northern provinces.

The move comes two days after Tehran and Ashgabat signed an agreement to continue their gas co-operation for at least five years.

Turkmenistan alleges that Iran has not fulfilled payment commitments to the tune of $1.8bn from sales between 2007 and 2008 – years when particularly harsh winters caused severe gas shortages across 20 Iranian provinces, which forced Tehran to increase imports from Ashgabat.

However, after intense discussions – which at one point saw the Iranians walk away from the negotiating table – both sides had come to an agreement.

Calling the halt of supplies a “sheer violation of the gas deal,” the NIGC has urged Iranians to “optimise gas consumption” and has said that any increase in demand would be met internally.

“Iran’s gas output has risen so much in the past three years that no more imports of the item would be needed and lack of supply in the cold could be met by conservation of gas in power plants, industries and the household sector,” it added in the statement.