Iran says Turkey silent on pipeline repair delay

Iran said Turkey has not explained why it is delaying repairs to a natural gas pipeline used to ship Iranian gas to the country.

Ankara has also rejected an Iranian offer to carry out the work, which usually takes a few days to complete, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said on Monday, according to the state-run PressTV.

“I don’t know for what reason the repair has been delayed,” he said.

Turkey is postponing work on the pipeline, blown up by Kurdish militants in late March, to leverage a lower price and curry political favour with the United States, S&P Global Platts reported last week, citing unidentified industry sources.

Turkish Deputy Energy Minister Alparslan Bayraktar said in February that Turkey planned to use cheaper liquefied natural gas (LNG) to persuade its long-term natural gas suppliers to lower their prices.

Iran supplies around 17 percent of Turkey’s natural gas needs, with Russia and Azerbaijan being the other major providers. The Turkish government has increased its imports of U.S. LNG this year, accepting 23 cargoes compared with 13 in the whole of 2019, according to S&P Global Platts.

“We declared that we are ready to repair this pipeline for them but the Turks did not welcome this proposal,” Zanganeh said.

Ankara is seeking to improve diplomatic ties with Washington, undercut by its purchase of S-400 air defence missiles from Russia and its ground offensive last year against Kurdish militants in Syria allied with the United States in the fight against Islamic State (ISIS).