Gazprom unit plans refinery in Armenia for Iranian oil

AFX News Limited
January 26, 2007 Friday 1:22 PM GMT

Gazprom unit plans refinery in Armenia for Iranian oil

MOSCOW (AFX) – Gazprom Neft, the oil subsidiary of Russian gas giant
Gazprom, is considering building a refinery in Armenia near the
border with Iran, with a view to processing Iranian oil there,
according to a press report in Russian daily Kommersant.

‘We are studying construction of a refinery in Armenia, but cannot
give any more detail for the moment’, Natalia Vyalkina, spokeswoman
of state-run Gazprom Neft told AFP. ‘We are in discussions with
Armenian and Russian parties’, she added, but refused to talk about
discussions with Tehran.

Quoting sources close to the matter, Kommersant said Gazprom Neft
aimed to import into the former Soviet republic of Armenia crude
extracted in Tabriz, a border region of northern Iran.

‘Russia to provide a strategic pipeline to Iran and Armenia’,
Kommersant headlined, underlining the ‘essentially political’ nature
of this project, which has little economic value because of transport
costs, according to analysts quoted by the paper.

The project would involve pipelining crude some 200 km from Tabriz to
Armenia, according to the newspaper, then re-forwarding refined oil
to Iran by rail.

‘This Armenian refinery could be useful for Iran in the event of
military operation by the United States against Tehran’, as
Washington would not dare to attack an installation in Armenia,
Kommersant suggested, adding that, ‘for Russia, participation in this
project could risk new friction with the United States’.

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