Iran offers Turkmenistan to pay off gas debt by barter

On October 26-28, a Turkmen delegation headed by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredov is visiting Iran.

Iranian media write that the minister will take part in the 16th annual meeting of the Joint Economic and Cultural Commission and in the second ministerial meeting of Afghanistan's neighboring countries (the first was held on September 8 this year at the initiative of Pakistan).

On October 26, the head of the Turkmen delegation was received by Iranian President Seyed Ebrahim Raisi , the Foreign Ministry of Turkmenistan reports . The parties discussed political-diplomatic, trade-economic and cultural-humanitarian cooperation.

On the same day, Meredov met with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir Abdollahiyan . The officials discussed the activation of transport links, the supply of energy resources and noted the need to intensify the interaction of the two countries in the direction of Turkmenbashi-Bender-Anzali to build up the potential of maritime transport.

“The ministers noted the beginning of the successful functioning of another checkpoint on the Turkmen-Iranian border to normalize sanitary and epidemiological indicators,” the Foreign Ministry said.

On October 14, the Turkmen side again agreed to let the goods transported by trucks from Iran through the Inchekh-Borun checkpoint into its territory, on the condition that local tractors would transport them through Turkmenistan. This has led to lower prices for potatoes and onions in Turkmenistan.

In addition, officials agreed to hold the next round of political consultations in the first quarter of 2022 in Ashgabat.

Also, Rashid Meredov met with Oil Minister Javad Ovji , at which cooperation in the field of energy was discussed .

After the meeting, Ovji said that the parties discussed the resumption of Turkmen gas supplies to Iran , saying that under the previous Iranian government, imports were suspended due to a delay in the payment of the debt.

Based on the results of the proceedings in the International Arbitration, the amount of the debt was determined. The Iranian side presented the Turkmen delegation with proposals on debt repayment schemes, the Iranian minister said, adding that Iran has extensive engineering and technical potential and is ready to export its services to Turkmenistan in the development of offshore and onshore fields, oil and gas refining and processing.

Turkmenistan has stopped gas supplies to Iran since January 1, 2017, after a dispute broke out between Turkmengaz and the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGK). The Turkmen side demanded that Iran pay $ 1.8 billion in debt.

In mid-August 2018, Turkmengaz filed a claim against NIGK to the International Arbitration Court. In October 2018, the Iranian side filed a response claim.

The arbitration put an end to the dispute in June 2020, however, how the case ended up was not disclosed. Some publications reported that following the results of the proceedings, the NIGC is obliged to pay the entire amount of the debt to the Turkmen side. In turn, the Iranian Oil Ministry denied this information.

Prior to this conflict, Iran paid for the supplied Turkmen gas on a barter basis , providing its goods and services, including in the construction of roads.

According to the Iranian news agency IRNA, at the meeting of the Commission, the Minister of Roads and Urban Development of Iran, Rostam Ghasemi, noted that there is multibillion-dollar trade between the two countries , but the coronavirus pandemic has imposed some restrictions.

He spoke about the meeting with the Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan, during which they reached agreements on energy, gas, electricity and transport.

Kasemi also noted that he discussed with Rashid Meredov the possibility of Turkmenistan's participation in the Iran-India-Afghanistan agreement on the Chabahar port for the transportation of goods from the southern port of Iran to northern countries, including Russia.

Mehr writes that Turkmenistan will be added to a trilateral Memorandum of Understanding between India, Afghanistan and Iran called the Chabahar Agreement, which will strengthen the Iranian port of Chabahar.

In May 2016, Tehran, New Delhi and Kabul signed an agreement in the Iranian capital on the development of transit and transport traffic through the Iranian port of Chabahar. The agreements will allow India to transport Indian goods to Afghanistan and Afghanistan to India through an Iranian port.

Chabahar is the largest port in Iran. This is a strategic point for the transit of goods from Asia to Europe, according to "Sea News of Russia". The port is managed at the expense of India's financial investments, according to a contract between Iran and India, the operation of this port has been leased to India for a period of 10 years and allows the transit of goods in the following ways: from India through Iran to Afghanistan and the countries of Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan. After the change of government in Afghanistan, experts began to express fears that a major project to develop the port of Chabahar could remain on paper.

Source: Chronicles of Turkmenistan