BEIRUT, June 21 (Reuters) - Iran has begun exporting gas to Iraq, an Iranian official told the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) on Wednesday, after a several years of delays.
The neighbours, both members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, initially signed a deal in 2013 for Iran to supply Iraqi power stations, but officials in the past blamed poor security in Iraq for hampering implementation.
Exports had started at approximately 7 million cubic metres per day and would eventually reach up to 35 million cubic metres per day, Amir Hossein Zamaninia, the deputy oil minister for trade and international affairs, told IRNA.
Iran signed two contracts to export gas, one for the Iraqi capital Baghdad and the other for southern Iraqi city of Basra, IRNA reported.
Iran, which has huge gas reserves alongside its oil resources, exports small amounts of gas to Turkey but production has struggled to keep pace with rising domestic consumption.
Experts say years of Western sanctions over Iran's disputed nuclear programme have also hindered development of gas projects. Some sanctions have been lifted since a nuclear deal was reached with Western powers.
Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Edmund Blair