Stepping up efforts to giving shape to long-pending $ 7.4 billion Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, the Iranian oil minister’s special representative H Ghanimi Fard on Friday announced that natural gas from Iran could flow into the sub-continent by the end of 2011.
Speaking to newsmen in New Delhi after a meeting with petroleum minister Murli Deora and Pakistan petroleum and natural resources secretary Ahmad Waqar, the Iranian official invited Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to Tehran for signing a tri-nation deal. “In the first phase, 30 million metric standard cubic metres per day each will be available to India and Pakistan,” he added.
Petroleum Minister Murli Deora is expected to meet his Pakistani counterpart next month to finalise the remaining bilateral issues before the heads of the three nations meet in Tehran.
The trilateral talks are, however, bogged down on Iran’s insistence on insertion of a clause for revision in the agreed pricing formula every three years. The tricky issue has been left to the ministerial level for resolution.
“It is tantamount to holding a gun to our heads. Even if Iran's proposed gas price after three years is not acceptable to us, we will not be able to do much. We will not even be able to walk out of the project as over $4 billion would have already been invested in laying pipelines from the Iran-Pakistan border to the Pakistan-India border and from there to consumption centres in India," sources said.
Deora said most of the major issues in the project had been resolved and only “small things” remained.
Waqar sought to allay India’s concerns regarding security of its gas supplies. “We would be equally concerned about the security of our gas supplies. Nearly 760 km of the gas pipeline for both the countries would be the same. Only a separate 230 km pipeline is for India. We will secure the pipeline,” he stated.
Petroleum secretary MS Srinivasan said all major issues regarding the supply of natural gas had been resolved. “There is an understanding on the gas delivery point and transportation tariff. Issues regarding transit fee and period for price revision of gas have been left for agreement at the ministerial level,” he pointed out.