Work on the seventh nationwide gas pipeline from Asalouyeh to Iranshahr in Sistan-Baluchestan province is in progress. Some 4,955 villages have been linked to natural gas supply network in the past four years, deputy oil minister Reza Kasaiezadeh said.
He predicted that some 9,000 villages would benefit from natural gas by the end of Fourth Five-Year Development Plan (2005-2010).
Kasaiezadeh, who is also the managing director of National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), disclosed that operations to commission Ilam Refinery would begin soon.
He further said that the inauguration of the sixth nationwide gas pipeline, third Azarbaijan pipeline (from Saveh to Miandoab), Naqadeh-Orumieh gas supply line as well as construction of 10 pressure-boosting stations are among the other projects to be launched by March 2008.
The official put the value of contracts signed during March 21-August 22 at 32 trln rials.
Kasaiezadeh said a contractor for engineering services of the ninth nationwide gas pipeline which stretches from southern hydrocarbon-rich Asalouyeh in Bushehr province to Bazargan on the border with Turkey would be selected in the near future.
Underlining that an Iranian contractor would be chosen through tender, he said the abovementioned pipeline could transfer 35 bln cubic meters of gas per year.
He put the length of pipeline at 1,800 kilometers and the installation costs at $4.6 bln, adding the company plans to absorb it through foreign investment.
The deputy oil minister said the seventh nationwide gas pipeline from Asalouyeh to Iranshahr in Sistan-Baluchestan province has shown a physical progress of 45%, adding 426 mln euros have been paid for purchasing pipes for the project.
The government places top priority to supplying gas to impoverished regions.