Saturday, June 9, 2012

Plans for an Armenian-Iranian Fuel Pipeline

Construction is scheduled to begin in 2012 of an oil pipeline between the Iranian city of Tabriz and the Armenian city of Eraskh, reports the Agence France Presse.  The oil pipeline follows the opening of a gas pipeline between the two countries.  Armenia has been looking for an alternative to Russian energy imports since 2008, when Russian supplies were interrupted during the Russian-Georgia conflict.

Armenian energy minister Armen Movsisian told a news conference in February that "The diversification of energy sources is a guarantee of our country's eenergy security.  The pipeline will provide the country with stable fuel imports."

The AFP article states the pipeline will be completed in 2013, and is scheduled to deliver 1.5 million liters a day of Iranian gasoline and diesel fuel.  Armenia will pay $100 million for its share of the construction costs.

While Iran may look upon these energy links to Armenia as symbolic of it having non-Muslim friends willing to ignore sanctions, the Armenian motives appear more basic.  Both Russia and Iran support Armenia in its conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, so diversification of sources should not be considered as either favoring Iran or slighting Russia.  It appears, instead, exactly what it says it is:  an effort to make sure that it will have a fuel supply regardless of what happens with its neighbors.