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Why Trump Doesn't Have to Do Anything to Stop Iran's Gas Plans

  • Iran to consume most new output from world’s biggest gas field
  • Prospects for pipeline, LNG sales are dim until at least 2024
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Photographer: Patrick Hamilton/Bloomberg
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Iran is on track to out-produce Qatar, the world’s biggest LNG exporter, at the vast natural gas deposit they share in the Persian Gulf. Its officials want to gain market share and attract foreign capital, even as U.S. President Donald Trump ratchets up confrontational rhetoric against Iran. But as much as they might want, the Iranians won’t have much gas to export because they are likely to use most of the new production themselves.

Almost nothing. Iran has 18.2 percent of proven gas reserves, ahead of Russia and Qatar, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. Unlike its competitors, which have built far-flung pipelines and liquefied natural gas plants to reach foreign buyers, Iran exported 8.4 billion cubic meters (300 billion cubic feet) in 2015 while importing 7.5 billion cubic meters the same year. Until recently, it was a net importer, buying or bartering for gas from Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan because its domestic distribution network doesn’t supply the entire country. Iran exports less gas by pipeline than Myanmar or Kazakhstan, which together hold less than 1 percent of global reserves.