Iran promotes gas projects in Qatar

The Iranian president Ibrahim Raisi will discuss gas project with Qatari representatives (Credits: Mehr News Agency, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi arrived in Doha to attend the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) and probably sign several Memorandum of Understandings, most notably to realise a crucial underwater project that will connect Iran and Iraq.

The Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi arrived in Qatar to pay a two-day official visit and attend the sixth meeting of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF). Raisi heads a delegation that includes the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Minister of Oil, Javad Owji, the Minister of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts, Ezzatollah Zarghami, and the Minister of Roads and Urban Development, Rostam Qasemi.

The GECF is a gathering of the world’s leading gas exporting countries and was set up to increase coordination and strengthen the collaboration among its members. The member countries represent 71% of the world proven natural gas reserves, 43% of its marketed production, 58% of LNG exports and 52% of pipeline trade of the source across the globe.

At the Doha Airport, Raisi was welcomed by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and marked the first visit by an Iranian President to Qatar in eleven years and his third foreign visit since assuming office in August 2021.

The first day will be dedicated to the official welcome of the Emir of Qatar in the Amiri Diwan and several expert-level meetings between Iranian-Qatari businessmen to expand bilateral trade and economic cooperation. On the second day, the Iranian President will deliver a speech at the GECF summit. The Iranian Ambassador to Qatar, Hamid Reza Dehghani, revealed that several memorandums of understanding (MoUs) might be signed.

Previously the Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development, Rostam Qasemi, and the Managing Director of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organisation (PMO), had a conversation with Qatari Transportations and Naval Affairs Minister about establishing regular shipping lines between the ports of the two countries. In addition, the two sides agreed to make more active use of Qatari commercial airlines over Iranian skies. Most important, the two sides discussed a unique project, an under-seabed tunnel between the two states to connect Bushehr’s Deyr Port to Qatar. As Safaei explained, this is a macro-scale project that will connect the north of the Persian Gulf to its south and Iran and Qatar to Western Asia countries and the Caspian Sea littoral countries by road and rails up to the Mediterranean Sea region countries. The four joint agreements are set to be eventually finalised in the presence of President Raisi.

Why does it matter?

The Vienna talks to restore the JCPOA nuclear deal are in the final stretch. Iran might fully re-enter the global energy market freed from U.S. sanctions. Gulf Arab countries, who initially opposed the nuclear deal, are now calling on Biden to revive it, marking a change in their relations with Tehran.

Being Iran among the three most crucial gas producing and exporting countries, Tehran is preparing itself for the post-sanctions scenario. As underlined by President Raisi, this visit is a step towards activating diplomacy with neighbours, primarily Persian Gulf countries and developing political and economic ties. Alireza Peyman-Pak, the head of Iran’s Trade Promotion Organisation (TPO), stated that the trade value between Iran and Qatar could reach one billion dollars in the upcoming year. The discussed agreements will follow the 300 million dollars investment by the United Arab Emirates in Iranian companies and projects (The United Arab Emirates boost trade partnership and investments in Iran). Furthermore, on the sidelines of the current Summit, the Iranian Minister of Petroleum held meetings with energy ministers of Algeria, Qatar, Venezuela, and Nigeria, addressing the issues of investment in oil and gas fields, transfer of technology, and swap of gas.

The Raisi administration’s strategy is to strengthen diplomatic and economic relations between key regional actors in the petrochemicals market, enhancing its role in the Persian Gulf and assuring itself corridors for its exports. Qatar might be one of the transit hubs for Iranian Liquefied Gas, considering Iran and Qatar already shared ownership of the North and South Pars Field natural gas area, the world’s largest natural gas field.

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Monitoring articles edited by Silvia Boltuc. On Thursday, February 3rd, 2022, SpecialEurasia will organise a webinar in the Italian language titled “Geopolitics of the Middle East: regional dynamics, economic interests and terrorism” to analyse and discuss current geopolitical trends in the Middle Eastern region. 

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