The global rating agency Fitch says Iran will become a major exporter of natural gas within the next five years.
Fitch in a statement released on Friday said Iran has the long-term potential to become one of the world's top gas producers, thanks to its 34 trillion cubic meters (tcm) of natural gas reserves, or around 18% of the world's total.
However, it emphasized that major exports from Iran will not materialize anytime before 2020 by considering that international sanctions against the country are lifted.
Fitch added that Iran will need more time to ramp up production and build the pipelines necessary to become a large gas exporter.
It further said that Iran’s plans for exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) will have to wait for a decade or longer to materialize due to the higher costs and the complexity of the technology involved.
Fitch in its statement also said that Iran’s consumption of natural gas has increased dramatically over the past years, rising 66% between 2005 and 2014 to 170 billion cubic meters (bcm).
“This rate of growth has been second only to China and has made Iran the world's fourth biggest gas consumer behind the U.S., Russia and China,” the statement said.
“We therefore expect a significant part of the newly commissioned capacity over the next few years to continue serving the domestic market,” it added.
Fitch in its conclusion emphasized that Iran’s natural gas export plans will only be materialized by the end of this decade at the earliest due to the numerous challenges that its gas sector still faces.