Bahrain to Press on with Iran Gas Deal

A05292048.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Bahrain intends to push ahead with plans to buy gas from Iran, despite US opposition to deals with Tehran, senior officials said.

Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed al-Khalifa, Bahrain’s foreign minister, told the FT that negotiations with Tehran to import one billion cubic feet of gas per day were “very important” and “real”.

Oil ministers from the two sides met in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, last week and agreed to a “framework agreement” on the deal. But pessimists question whether the project will really go ahead, given the kingdom’s reliance on the US.

Bahrain faces potential gas shortages in the future. Although the Persian Gulf region is rich in hydrocarbons, little attention has been paid to developing gas, and only Iran and Qatar can claim to have ample supplies of the resource as economies rapidly expand.

However, Qatar has put a moratorium on its North Field, the world’s largest reservoir of pure gas, until at least 2010, causing Bahrain to look farther east to Iran. Bahrainis admit they see no other option but to import gas from Iran.

“Should we keep ourselves at risk of not having enough power to run our country?” said Sheikh Khalid. “No, we will not do it, and Iran is our neighbor and we should tell the Iranians this is a deal.”

He said Washington had raised questions about the deal, but Bahrain’s response was that the kingdom needed gas to prosper.

The US has made clear that Washington does not support any measures that would provide resources to the Islamic Republic, especially investments in the petroleum sector.

Analysts believe that the United States’ attempt to rally international pressure against Iran has lost steam due to the growing international vigilance.

US President George W. Bush finished a tour of the Middle East in winter to gain the consensus of his Arab allies to unite against Iran.

But hosting officials of the regional nations dismissed Bush’s allegations, describing Tehran as a good friend of their countries.

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