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    Armenia backs Iran-Armenia gas pipeline extension to Europe

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    Armenia is not ruling out extending the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline to Europe, the Armenian energy minister said on Monday.

    YEREVAN, December 24 (RIA Novosti) - Armenia is not ruling out extending the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline to Europe, the Armenian energy minister said on Monday.

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in October that plans to extend the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline to Europe were very promising.

    "If Iran and Europe reach an agreement on gas supplies and consider it possible to export gas via Armenia by the shortest and the most effective method, we'll naturally implement this project after assessing its environmental and economic aspects," Armen Movsisyan said.

    Movsisyan said that if Armenia made such a decision, "no one will prevent us from carrying this project through as it is advantageous for the country and its economy.

    The Armenian Energy Ministry earlier forecast commissioning of the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline by early 2009.

    The first 40 km (24 miles) leg of the pipeline went on stream in March, and the second 141 km (87 miles) leg is currently being built.

    The pipeline's cost has been estimated at between $220 million and $250 million. During the first stage, Armenia will pump some 400 million cubic meters of gas annually with plans to increase the volume to 2.3 billion cubic meters.

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