ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Turkmenistan on Wednesday to inaugurate a 19-mile pipeline connection to the Dauletabad gas field.
Ahmadinejad hailed the inauguration as a sign of the new phase in the development of bilateral relations between the two Asian neighbors, Iranian state broadcaster Press TV reports.
"The gas pipeline that is being opened today will take our relations to a new level," he said.
The Turkmenistan-Iran pipeline transmits more than 200 billion cubic feet of gas from the Dauletabad gas field in Turkmenistan to eastern Iran each year. Tehran said Turkmen gas frees Iranian reserves for exports to other countries.
"The realization of the gas pipeline plays a big role in strengthening the energy security of the countries of the region," the Iranian president said.
The pipeline connects to the Korpezhe-Kurt-Kui pipeline, which transports 296 billion cubic meters of Turkmen gas to Iran.
The pipeline reduces Ashgabat's reliance on Russia as an export market for gas. Turkmenistan had shipped the bulk of its gas to Russia, though relations collapsed following a pipeline explosion in 2009 blamed on Russian gas monopoly Gazprom.