LONDON, September 15 (IranMania) - Turkmenistan President Saparmurat Niyazov has opened a new gas compressor complex that will allow the former Soviet republic to substantially boost natural gas exports to Iran, Turkmen media said Thursday.
The facility built by German and Iranian contractors at Korpedzh, near the border with Iran at a cost of 114 million euros (139 million dollars), "will allow an increase in the volume and reliability of gas deliveries" by pipeline to Iran, Niyazov said at a ceremony on Wednesday shown on national television.
"Talks are under way with the Iranian side on increasing gas supplies" to Iran next year, Niyazov said, according to AFP.
This year Turkmenistan is due to export five billion cubic metres of natural gas to Iran via a pipeline that runs from Korpedzh to Kurt Kui, in northern Iran, that opened in 1997.
But that volume is well short of the eight billion cubic metres that the pipeline -- which was 80-percent financed by Iran -- was intended to carry.
The pipeline is Turkmenistan's only gas export pipeline that is not part of the ageing Soviet-era network.
While Iran is considered to have massive potential to produce and export its own natural gas, its reserves are mainly in southern Iran, making imports from Turkmenistan a potentially convenient alternative for the north.
Turkmenistan has also agreed to supply 36 billion cubic metres to Ukraine and four billion cubic metres to Russia this year, Turkmen officials said.
The Central Asian state is thought to have among the largest natural gas reserves in the world.