Syria increases gas production, hopes for more electricity
After years of fighting and setbacks, the long-simmering dispute over Syria’s natural gas production — between the government, which controls the main fields, and Russia, the main producer and exporter of the gas — still simmering.
But signs are growing that things are finally moving in the other direction. This week, Russia’s top gas regulator said that he now expects to see a boost to Syrian production to 5.7 billion cubic meters in 2013, up from a previous projection of 4.5 billion cubic meters.
“We expect this to be a positive development … to be quite significant,” said Pavel Chuprov, head of Rosgosstrakh — Russian state gas monopolists.
A diplomatic breakthrough might be coming fast. For months, Russia and the United States have been working toward a way to resolve the underlying dispute, and several possible solutions are discussed in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Russia and Iran have said they are ready to cooperate with the United States to solve the issue of natural gas supplies to Syria, so that the Syrian people can have gas in their homes and make their lives easier,” said Rami Makhlouf, Iran’s foreign minister. “We look forward to this cooperation too,” he said, adding that the two states would cooperate as quickly as possible.
Russia and Iran have agreed on two routes to allow up to 12 billion cubic meters of gas a year to the Syrians. One route is through Austria — with a potential production of 3.1 billion cubic meters — and the other is through Turkey — with a proposed capacity of 1.4 billion cubic meters.
In July, the Russian gas regulator said that it was considering a possibility of bypassing Turkey in favor of Austria in order not to tie Syria to Moscow. Another option would be for Russia to export gas through Ukraine