TEHRAN, April 15 (UPI) -- The launch of a refinery in central Iran means the country can start plans to export liquefied natural gas, Deputy Oil Minister Alireza Zeighami said.
Zeighami said Iran stopped importing around 800 tons of LNG from neighboring countries because of the launch of a new refinery named after the leader of the 1979 revolution, Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
"Following complete development of Imam Khomeini Refinery in (the city of) Shazand ... , 1,500 tons per day of LNG in excess of domestic demand is now produced in the country," he was quoted by Iran's state-funded broadcaster Press TV as saying.
Zeighami said Iran produces about 440,000 cubic feet of LNG per year, up from 317,000 cubic feet produced in 2005. This means Iran is on its way to becoming a net exporter of LNG because of the surplus.
Shipments of LNG are less geopolitically sensitive than pipeline deliveries. Iran's efforts to pipe natural gas to Pakistan through a cross-border project have irked the U.S. government, which sees it as an economic life-line for Iran.
Press TV reports that Iran aims to deliver its first shipment of LNG to the international market next year.