TEHRAN, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- The first stage of a natural gas pipeline connecting Iran to Iraq is ready for testing, the head of an Iranian gas development company said.
Alireza Gharibi, managing director of the Iranian Gas Engineering and Development Co., said a 60-mile pipeline crossing the Iranian border into Iraq is ready for water deliveries as part of an initial testing process.
Once cleaning operations and testing are completed, the pipeline will be ready for initial exports of 176 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.
"When this part of the pipeline becomes operational, additional pipeline loops will increase gas export to Iraq," he said Saturday.
Iran said last week natural gas production is on the rise and on pace to reach 35 billion cubic feet in the next three years with help from the South Pars field.
Iran has held out its vast gas resources as an option for a European community looking to break the Russian grip on the energy sector. Sanctions imposed by Western powers limit some of Iran's energy ambitions.