Iran and Switzerland signed an agreement Monday to major exports of Iranian gas to a Swiss company, in a rare energy deal between Tehran and the West in their nuclear tug-of-war drags on.
“Today we have witnessed the signing of a gas contract between the two countries,” Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki announced at a joint press conference with his Swiss counterpart Micheline Calmy-Rey.
Financial details were not disclosed, but the contract between Iran gas in the solid state and Switzerland Elektrizitaets-Gesellschaft Laufenburg (EGL) Iran reportedly is considering providing 5.5 billion cubic metres (194 trillion feet cubes) of gas annually from 2011.
Calmy-Rey said the deal was in full compliance with the Security Council resolutions of the UN imposed against Iran for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, a potential weapon Nuclear decision-making process.
“I am pleased that the export of gas agreement was signed between the two companies,” she said. “It is in full compliance with international law and the UN resolution.”
The gas will be pumped to one of EGL central Italy.
Switzerland is a country with few resources and clean energy also said Europe needs to diversify its energy imports away from Russia to other exporters such as Iran.
The agreement, which was signed just before the press conference, comes from the United States despite the pressure on European countries to cut their business ties with Tehran as a means to exert pressure on it to give ground in the nuclear crisis.
“I congratulate the Swiss company to have been so far. We hope that this will be a new chapter in the long term economic cooperation between Iran and Switzerland, “said Mottaki.
However, the deal depends on the construction of the proposed Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) that will connect Greece to Italy and to provide better access for Europe, gas fields in the Caspian Sea and Middle East.
The final investment decision on the pipeline is not expected before 2009.
Another major condition is the ability of Iran, always aa net importer of gas, the supply of gas to Europe.
Iran, which sits on the second largest gas reserves in the world after Russia, has great expectations for the export of gas to the countries of the region such as Armenia, Pakistan, Syria and as well as Europe.
But progress is being hampered by a lack of foreign investment in the development of gas fields, a problem compounded by the reluctance of many Western companies to cope with the Islamic republic under the current political situation.
This winter, many cities in the north of Iran has suffered days of cuts domestic gas because of shortages and a reduction of imports from Turkmenistan.
To meet part of the deficiencies, Iran has been forced to cut off gas supplies to neighbouring Turkey – currently its sole customer important export market – for three weeks.
In the absence of a mission from the United States after diplomatic ties were cut ago nearly three decades, the Swiss embassy takes care of the interests of Iran in Tehran’s arch ” any enemy and consular issues involving American citizens.