Iran and Greece Ink Natural Gas Trade Agreement

Iran agreed to cooperate with Greece, which is seeking to cover rising energy consumption ahead of the 2004 Athens Olympics, in transferring natural gas from the east to the European Union. The two countries signed a natural gas agreement between Greece's state gas company Depa and the National Iranian Oil Company during a visit to Athens by Iranian President Mohammad Khatami.

Iran is trying to tap into the large European Union energy market. Greece said recently that it would build an extension to an existing natural gas pipeline currently running from Iran's Tabriz to the capital of Turkey, Ankara, in order to both import gas for domestic use and to transfer it to Italy via an underwater pipeline. Greece currently pumps annually 3.0 billion cubic meters of gas from its northern pipeline into the country. But the Greek development ministry has said the country will need at least 7.5 billion cubic meters per year for domestic use.

Iran has welcomed the move, as this project, to be completed by 2004, would allow it to pump gas into one of the world's largest energy markets.