January 1, 2017 / 5:46 PM / 8 months ago

Turkmenistan halts gas exports to Iran over payment row, Tehran says

DUBAI (Reuters) - Turkmenistan stopped gas exports to Iran on Sunday in a long-running dispute over arrears, Iran's state gas company said, days after Tehran said the issue had been temporarily resolved.

"Türkmengaz suddenly and ... in an illogical manner, contradictory to the agreement, halted gas deliveries to Iran this morning, demanding quick payment of the disputed amount," the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) aid in a statement carried by the oil ministry news website SHANA.

Turkmengaz had no immediate comment.

Tehran said in December that Turkmenistan had threatened to stop gas exports because of arrears, which amounted to about $1.8 billion and dated back more than a decade. Iran wanted to refer the issue to arbitration.

But on Friday, Iranian oil minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh was quoted by Mehr news agency as saying that Turkmenistan had reached a temporary agreement with Tehran to continue gas exports.

Iran has major natural gas fields in the south but has imported gas from Turkmenistan since 1997 for distribution in its northern provinces, especially during the winter.

Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Additional reporting by Olzhas Auyezov in Almaty; Editing by Adrian Croft

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