IRANIAN NATURAL GAS: OPPORTUNITIES AND RISKS
Lancaster, Alan W.
Tran, Thang Q.
Robinson, Glenn E.
Meierding, Emily L.
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This thesis investigates the Islamic Republic of Iran’s current natural gas sector and explores the opportunities to monetize its proved natural gas reserves. According to BP statistics, Iran owns the world’s second-largest proved natural gas reserves, totaling 33.2 trillion cubic meters, or 17.2% of the world’s total proved reserves. Iran’s ability to expand its role in the natural gas market depends heavily on its ability to increase production, its capability to reach markets, and improved international relations with the West. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) afforded sanctions relief for Iran to develop and resurrect its battered energy infrastructure with foreign investments. Though the United States withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018, Iran is expected to increase its natural gas production to at least satisfy growing domestic demands. After analyzing Iran’s natural gas capacity, susceptible markets, and infrastructure, this research explores three strategic political scenarios that explore how the United States could approach Iran’s natural gas sector: cooperation, confrontation, and a hybrid approach. Iran desires to become a regional energy hub for exports, and U.S. policymakers must pursue a strategy that preserves U.S. interests while also promoting energy security for its allies and partners.
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