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Iran says to double gas output by 2005

Iran, holder of the world's second largest natural gas reserves...

Iran, holder of the world's second largest natural gas reserves after Russia, has ambitious plans for its gas sector and hopes to double its production over the next four years.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh told a gas forum in Tehran on Saturday that his country was aiming to more than double gas production by 2005 from 300 million cubic metres a day now.

He said that with the further substitution of gas for petroleum products, the share of natural gas in the energy mix should rise from 42 per cent to 55 per cent in 2005.

Iran is hosting the first ever Gas Exporting Countries' Forum (GECF) which is expected to discuss all facets of the gas industry, ranging from upstream to downstream and marketing. The country now holds 26.31 trillion cubic metres of gas reserves or 18 percent of the world's total, Zanganeh said.

Much of Iran's gas reserves are untapped and the country has yet to become a major exporter. He said the Islamic republic would soon start gas exports to Turkey under a 22-year contract.

Ahmad Rahgozar, vice president of the National Iranian Oil Co, said Iran aimed to sell three billion cubic metres to Turkey starting in July for one year. Volume should go up to 10 billion cubic metres in three to four years, he said on the sidelines of the forum.

Besides the pipeline export project, Iran was giving special attention to the development of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and gas-to-liquids technology. Zanganeh said world demand for natural gas was projected to grow annually by about 3.2 per cent during the next two decades, a rate much faster than growth rates of other energy sources.

The share of gas in the worldwide energy mix is expected to rise from some 22.7 per cent today to 29 per cent in 2020 at the expense of other fuels, he added.