Easing of N-curbs to revive India-Iran gas pipeline talks

  • Anupama Airy, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
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  • Updated: Jan 20, 2014 23:31 IST

In a move that will revive the prospects of the billion dollar Iran-India gas pipeline project as well as ensure participation of Indian companies in developing the prestigious Farzad-B gas field in Tehran, New Delhi and Tehran are close to forging a strategic commercial co-operation pact between the two nations.

The Farzad-B gas field is estimated to hold three times the size of known gas reserves in Reliance Industries’ KG-D6 block

Iran petroleum minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh had on December 22 extended an invitation to his Indian counterpart Veerappa Moily to visit Tehran and hold discussions over consolidating the bilateral co-operation pact between the two nations.

Moily plans to lead a delegation to Iran to finalise the contours of a package deal that will cover the development of the Farzad-B gas field, swapping of the gas produced (from Farzad-B) with other Iranian gas at Chabahar port and laying of Iran-India gas pipeline for transportation of the swapped gas to India under a special package contract (SPC) or contracts, government sources told HT.

Officials also disclosed that as against joining the 2,700-km onland gas pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan, discussions are also on over the possibility of laying an alternate 1,400-km sub-sea deepwater pipeline from Iran to India crossing the sea of Oman. New Delhi is not in favour of joining the onland gas pipeline project traversing through Pakistan due to security concerns.

“We would be happy to mount a delegation to Tehran in the near future on mutually convenient dates that could be firmed up through diplomatic channels,” Moily wrote in his January 8 letter to Zanganeh. “Such a proposal for developing the field (Farzad B) and receiving gas produced for transporting to India (via swap) through pipeline is very exciting for us.”

Even though India’s commitment to invest further in Iran’s oil and gas sector comes in the wake of global sanctions being lifted against Tehran, New Delhi, while walking a diplomatic tightrope has continued with its policy of pursuing neutrality and maintained warm ties with the US and given the trusted oil supplier nation status to Tehran.

 

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