An agreement has been signed between Iran and Oman to study a sub-sea gas pipeline for carrying Iranian gas to the Sultanate in a project worth $60 billion.
Oman’s plan of transfering natural-gas through pipeline from Iran is the latest sign that Saudi Arabia is failing to bind its smaller Gulf neighbors into a tighter bloc united in hostility to the Islamic Republic.
Two separate agreements were signed for studies in the offshore and onshore sections, with Omani Oil Minister Mohammed bin Hamad Al Rumhy visiting Tehran, Iran’s Press TV reported on Monday, quoting Alireza Kameli, managing director of the National Iranian Gas Exports Company (NIGEC).
The offshore section envisages building a pipeline for 200 kilometers from Kuh-e Mubarak in Iran to Oman’s Sohar port in five months. The onshore section of the pipeline in Iran will be built for another 200 km from Rudan to Kuh-e Mubarak in six months.
The agreement for the purchase of around $60 billion worth of natural gas from Iran for 25 years, which includes laying a $1 billion gas pipeline to Oman across the Gulf, was signed during the visit of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Muscat in March 2014.
Oman has undertaken to pay the entire cost of the pipeline and the related infrastructure, according to Iranian Oil Minister BijanZanganeh, Press TV reported.
Zanganeh has said that gas exports to Oman and entry into its retail market will make it possible to sell the Iranian natural gas to the region, especially Asian countries.
Meanwhile, the minister announced about cooperation with the Omani companies for the sales of oil and petrochemical products.
He said Omani firms are also eager to cooperate with Iran in development of oil and gas projects in the Islamic Republic.
In 2013, Iran agreed to export 28 million m3 of LNG to Oman through an underwater pipeline for a period of 15 years.
The LNG pipeline project has both onshore and offshore sections, and so the study has been divided amongst the appropriate bodies. The onshore study was carried out by Pars Consulting Engineers (PCE), whereas the study of the offshore section was carried out by the Iranian Offshore Engineering and Construction Co. (IOEC).
The offshore study suggests a 200 km LNG pipeline, which will stretch from Kuh-e Mubarak, Iran to Sohar port, Oman. The onshore section will go from the Rudan region of Iran to Mobark Mount in the southern Hormozgan Province, and will also be 200 km long. The latter is expected to be completed by early 2016.
Saudi Arabia, Oman and Iran
Unlike the Saudis, the Omanis don’t see Iran as a threat, which is one reason why Oman has shied away from Saudi Arabia’s plans for a Gulf Union, according to Coline Schep, a London-based Middle East analyst at Control Risks.
Oman isn’t the only GCC country that hasn’t adopted Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy. Qatar has refused to toe the Saudi line on another regional issue, supporting political Islamists including the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt after the 2011 revolts.