TWO NEW PIPELINES

Before the civil war, two competing pipelines put forward by Qatar and Iran aimed to transport gas to Europe through Syria.

Qatar’s plans were first put forward in 2009 and involved building a pipeline from the Persian Gulf via Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey.

The gas field located 3000 metres below the floor of the Persian Gulf is the largest natural gas field in the world. Qatar owns about two-thirds of the resource but can’t capitalise on it fully because it relies on tankers to deliver it to other countries and this makes its gas more expensive than Russia’s.

It was hoped the pipeline would provide cheaper access to Europe but Syrian President Bashar al Assad refused to give permission for the pipeline to go through his territory. Some believe Russia pressured him to reject the pipeline to safeguard its own business.

In the meantime Iran, which owns the other smaller, share of the Persian Gulf gas field, decided to lodge its own rival plan for a $10 billion pipeline to Europe via Iraq and Syria and then under the Mediterranean Sea.
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