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Russian experts will help the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran build two 1,000-MW nuclear power plants, Iran’s Energy Minister told media. Construction will start soon, Hamid Chitchian also said, adding that a third joint power plant construction project with Russia, which will have a capacity of 1,400 MW, has already begun.
The announcement is part of deepening ties between Moscow and Tehran, expanding into a growing number of industries, from oil to defense and fisheries. Earlier this year, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that Russian companies are “keen” on strengthening their ties with Iran, not least in the power plant construction sector. Energy-hungry Iran plans several more such projects, and it’s likely that Russian companies will be among the preferred bidders.
Yesterday, Iran’s ambassador to Russia said in a statement that Tehran would be happy to strengthen bilateral ties further, noting their joint stance on the political situation in the Middle East.
Energy is a big part of this cooperation between Moscow and Tehran. Russian companies are eager to develop Iran’s oil and gas reserves, and Iran is eager to expand its international footprint. In the short term, this cooperation will be mutually beneficial, but in the long run things may change as Iran looks to Europe as a potentially major market for its natural gas. This would mean stepping on Gazprom’s toes, although the state giant recently sealed a cooperation deal with its Iranian counterpart for joint development of local gas deposits.
At the recent visit of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani to Russia, he and Vladimir Putin stressed the importance of the energy sector in bilateral relations and the possible formation of a free-trade zone spanning Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union: Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.
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Political cooperation is also strengthening—Iran and Russia pretty much have only each other to rely on in the Middle East and are bound to continue supporting each other there.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.