Thursday, June 7, 2007

Iran Seeks to Undermine U.S. Energy Plan for Europe

By Lucian Kim

June 7 (Bloomberg) -- Iran plans to import more oil and gas from Central Asia as it seeks to undermine a U.S.-backed project to build pipelines from the Caspian Sea to Europe.

Iran intends to build its own energy link from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to rival a U.S.-supported web of pipelines, Mahmood Khaghani, director of Caspian Sea affairs in the Iranian Oil Ministry, said in Baku, Azerbaijan, today.

The U.S., at loggerheads with Iran over its nuclear program, supports plans for a pipeline system that would link Turkmenistan to Turkey as a way to lessen Europe's dependence on Russian natural gas. Iran is responding by pushing the expansion of an existing link it has to Turkmenistan, which holds the second- largest gas reserves in the former Soviet Union.

``Iran will do anything to kick sand in the eyes of the U.S.,'' said Kim Iskyan, co-head of research at UralSib Financial Corp. in Moscow. ``Even if this has a small chance of being realized, it'll throw a wild card on the table.''
Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru

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