Germany's Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel talks to the media at the end of a Special European Summit held at the European Union Council building in Brussels, early Sunday August 31, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Thierry CHARLIER
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The European Union is quietly increasing the urgency of a plan to import natural gas from Iran, as relations with Tehran thaw while those with top gas supplier Russia grow chillier.Two "ifs" -- the removal of sanctions on Iran and the addition of some pipeline infrastructure -- are not preventing EU planners preparing, a European Commission source involved in developing EU energy strategy told Reuters.However, the paper added that Iran was not a credible alternative energy supplier in the short-term due to sanctions and large infrastructure needs before exports become viable.The lifting of sanctions on Iran -- the game changer -- is unlikely to be soon.Iran has long lobbied to build a designated pipeline that would connect its huge South Pars gas field with European customers -- the so-called Persian Pipeline.Energy majors Total of France and Italy's Eni have in the past expressed interest in developing South Pars, one of the world's biggest gas fields, shared by Qatar and Iran, with total reserves estimated around 50 trillion cubic meters (tcm), enough to meet European demand for over 100 years.Independent feasibility studies show that, if sanctions were to be eased and investments started soon, Iran could supply 10-20 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas a year to Turkey and Europe by the early 2020s.
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