Iran will barter goods in return for some gas imports from Turkmenistan, an Iranian trade official was quoted as saying yesterday, a sign of Iran’s difficulties in paying for basic supplies due to sanctions on Iran.
“It has been decided that in place of a portion of the payments for gas imported from Turkmenistan, Iran will give this country goods,” said Abdul Hamid Asadian, director of the Europe and Americas division at the Trade Promotion Organisation of Iran, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency (Isna).
Asadian did not say what percentage of gas imports from Turkmenistan would be paid for with Iranian goods rather than cash. He said Iran purchases about $3bn worth of gas from Turkmenistan each year, according to ISNA.
Iran buys almost a third of Turkmenistan’s exported gas, relying on it for heating in winter and using it year round to meet industrial demand in regions distant from the country’s own fields clustered around the Gulf.
Banking and oil sanctions levied on Iran by the US and European Union over its disputed nuclear programme have made it difficult for Tehran to export its oil, a major source of its income, and repatriate earnings from the oil it does manage to sell.
Asadian told Isna yesterday that 80 Iranian companies had showcased their products in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan last week, following up on several months of meetings between Iranian and Turkmen officials.
“Two months ago as well we sent a delegation to Turkmenistan and with attention to the discussions that have taken place, it can be said that currently Iran and Turkmenistan have agreed with each other on the barter of gas for goods,” Asadian was quoted as saying.
Iranian imports of Turkmen gas averaged just over 1bn cu ft a day from July 2011 to June 2012, according to the US Energy Information Agency, but imports are much higher in winter and lower in summer.
Iranian oil minister Rostam Qasemi (pictured) was quoted as saying in November that supplies of gas from Turkmenistan to Iran had been halted due to a price dispute, though the head of Turkmenistan’s state gas company denied the report.