Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi on Tuesday declared his country's readiness to supply natural gas to the world, including Europe.
Addressing the sixth summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) in Qatar’s capital Doha, Raisi said that Iran, as one of the world’s biggest holders of natural gas reserves, has the capacity to supply it to the world and called on the international community to support initiatives aimed at ensuring the security of the global energy market.
This is Raisi's fourth foreign trip since assuming office last August and his first visit to Qatar.
Raisi said his country has been able to boost its natural gas production and carry out significant projects in the oil and gas sectors by banking on domestic expertise and resources.
He said sanctions imposed by 'hegemonic powers,” an oblique reference to the US, against 'free nations' were 'no longer effective,' urging closer cooperation among gas exporting countries to bypass sanctions.
Raisi's remarks came amid heightened tensions between Russia and the West over the crisis in Ukraine, which has threatened to disrupt the global energy market.
Oil prices on Tuesday touched $100 per barrel, the highest in more than seven years. Europe's natural gas futures also experienced jitters, rising more than 13%, as Russia supplies more than a third of the continent's gas consumption.
Raisi's remarks, which were meant to calm the situation in the energy market, are also being seen as a statement of solidarity with key regional ally Russia, which has been threatened with harsh sanctions by Western countries if it invades Ukraine.
In a statement Tuesday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, urged all sides to 'exercise restraint' and 'work to resolve disagreements through talks and within a peaceful framework.'
He said Iran believes that 'any action that could escalate tensions should be avoided.”
Meanwhile, Iran's Oil Minister Javad Oji in his remarks Tuesday echoed Raisi, saying Iran has repeatedly stated that it has the 'necessary capacity' to supply gas to neighboring countries and even Europe.
In a televised interview, Oji said despite high domestic consumption and exports, many of the country's gas fields remain intact, and new fields have also been discovered in recent years.
He said many treaties are “on the anvil” with gas exporting countries for the development of oil and gas fields, the reconstruction of oil and gas refineries, and the transfer of technical and engineering services.
By Syed Zafar Mehdi in Tehran