(Adds Iran urges consumers to curb gas consumption)
DUBAI Jan 1 Turkmenistan stopped gas exports to
Iran on Sunday in a long-running dispute over arrears, Iran's
state gas company said, days after Tehran said the issue had
been temporarily resolved.
"Türkmengaz suddenly and ... in an illogical manner,
contradictory to the agreement, halted gas deliveries to Iran
this morning, demanding quick payment of the disputed amount,"
the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) aid in a statement
carried by the oil ministry news website SHANA.
Türkmengaz had no immediate comment.
NIGC called on consumers to cut gas usage, but said
production increases and limiting industrial use could help
avoid shortages during the cold winter months.
"Output increases... and cutting consumption in power
plants, industry and homes in the winter can compensate for the
imports," the NIGC statement said.
Tehran said in December that Turkmenistan had threatened to
stop gas exports because of arrears, which amounted to about
$1.8 billion and dated back more than a decade. Iran wanted to
refer the issue to arbitration.
But on Friday, Iranian oil minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh
was quoted by Mehr news agency as saying that Turkmenistan had
reached a temporary agreement with Tehran to continue gas
Iran has major natural gas fields in the south but has
imported gas from Turkmenistan since 1997 for distribution in
its northern provinces, especially during the winter.
In November, France's Total said it had signed a
deal with Iran to further develop its part of the world's
largest gas field, becoming the first western energy company to
sign a major deal with Tehran since the lifting of international
sanctions imposed over Iran's nuclear programme.
(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Additional reporting by Olzhas
Auyezov in Almaty; Editing by Adrian Croft)