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Turkmenistan Halts Gas Exports To Iran Over Payment Dispute

FILE: Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov takes part in the opening ceremony of the East-West pipeline at the Belek compressor station, some 500 km northwest of Ashgabat.

Turkmenistan has "suddenly" halted gas supplies to Iran in a dispute between the two countries over arrears, the Iranian National Gas Company says.

"The gas company of Turkmenistan has cut gas exports to Iran, contrary to the agreement reached, by demanding immediate payment of arrears," the Iranian National Gas Company said in a January 1 statement.

The statement said the move was a "sheer violation" of the gas deal between the two countries.

The statement said the two countries had been holding discussions on the payment and amount of arrears Iran owes to Turkmenistan.

There was no immediate reaction from Turkmenistan.

Iran has imported natural gas from Turkmenistan since 1997 for distribution in the north of the country.

The National Iranian Gas Company asked consumers to "pay attention to consumption," but added that with domestic production rising, the country could cope by making savings.

Turkmenistan currently exports up to 10 billion cubic meters of gas to Iran, its third-largest trading partner after China and Turkey.

Tehran said in December that Turkmenistan had threatened to stop the gas flow because of arrears amounting to about $1.8 billion.

But last week Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh was quoted by the Mehr news agency as saying that Turkmenistan had reached a temporary agreement with Tehran to continue gas exports.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, and

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