YEREVAN -- Armenia is set to begin receiving natural gas from Iran for the first time this week, a key development for a country heavily dependent on Russian energy.
Armenian Energy Ministry spokesman Lusine Harutiunian told RFE/RL's Armenian Service that the deliveries could start as soon as May 12 and will be the first use of the two countries' new pipeline.
According to a 2004 agreement, Armenia will import Iranian gas to generate electricity, some of which will then be exported to Iran.
The electricity -- transmitted by way of a new high-voltage power line -- will effectively "pay" for Armenia's gas imports. Construction on the power line, which connects the two countries' power grids, is nearly complete.
With a current annual capacity of 2.3 billion cubic meters, the pipeline will be able to deliver as much gas as Armenia imports from Russia.
Seyyed Reza Kasaiizadeh, managing director of the National Iranian Gas Export Company, told "The Tehran Times" that deliveries will start at 2 million cubic meters and could go up to 4 million cubic meters by 2011.