Iranian Oil Minister Bizhan Namdar-Zanganeh has expressed his optimism about his country's ties with Azerbaijan, which he says have expanded in the spheres of oil, gas and electricity, despite the US sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
"Iran-Azerbaijan ties are growing in all sectors and oil, gas and energy sectors are the reference points, particularly the development of joint fields in the Caspian Sea," Zanganeh said at a meeting with visiting Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan, Sahin Mustafayev, the Iranian IRNA news agency reported on May 30.
The Iranian minister added that "due to foreign pressure coming from sanctions, we have not yet been able to implement them, but according to positive opinions of both countries' leaders, we will start implementing the projects".
For his part, Mustafayev pointed to oil and gas sectors as high-potential areas for developing economic relations between the two neighbors, and said that “we have a long history in cooperation in the field of gas, and since 2004 the gas required by the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic has been supplied by Iran, and we appreciate that.”
During a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of the Araz and Mil-Mugan dams' operation on the joint border between Iran and Azerbaijan on May 31, Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian described the Araz River as “a source of livelihood for border dwellers” and “a symbol of peace and friendship for the two countries”.
The ceremony was attended by Azerbaijani officials, including Azerbaijan’s Energy Minister Parviz Shahbazov and the chairman of Azerbaijan’s Melioration and Water Management Company, Zaur Mikayilov.
In August 2016, the Iranian MPs approved a bill on joint construction of two hydropower plants with Azerbaijan on the Araz River near Iran's town of Marazad and Azerbaijan’s Ordubad. The bill called for cooperation on the construction of power plants at the Khudafarin and Qiz Qalasi dams, as well as the construction of the Marazad power plant on the Iranian side and the Ordubad power plant in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, which is a landlocked exclave of Azerbaijan.
The electricity networks of Azerbaijan and Iran are connected through five existing electric power transmission lines - the 330 kV Mugan, 230 kV Imishli and 110 kV Astara-Astara transmission lines, owned by Azerenergy OJSC, and the 132 kV Araz-Araz and 132 kV Julfa-Julfa transmission lines, owned by the State Energy Agency of Nakhchivan.