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Policy on cross-border pipelines on the cards

India is all set to join the US-backed tri-nation pipeline project to import natural gas from the Central Asian nation, reports Deepak Joshi.

business Updated: Oct 23, 2007 21:17 IST
Deepak Joshi

The government has begun efforts to put in place the broad contours of its strategy on cross-border gas pipelines to ensure the country's energy security.

Even as India takes stock of various options on contentious issues in Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline, it is all set to join the US-backed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan pipeline project next month to import natural gas from the Central Asian nation.

India is expected to take a major stride on the issue by signing “Project Heads of Agreement” and a “Gas Pipeline Framework Agreement” at the Steering Committee meeting in Islamabad called by project sponsor Asian Development Board on November 28-29, sources said.

Turkmenistan would make a presentation on the potential of its gas reserves and volumes available for export to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The buyers are expected to make projections about their demand scenario and the quantum they would seek to meet through the multi-nation project.

As per the “Heads of Agreement” pact, the four nations would undertake project feasibility studies and device financial structure.

In another development, Pakistan has invited India next month for discussions to resolve the transit fee issue. India refused participation in an official level talks on the gas pipeline in Tehran last month, saying it wanted transit fee issue with Pakistan to be resolved first before it could attend a trilateral meeting.

Pakistan's Petroleum Secretary Farrakh Qayyum had last week written to his Indian counterpart M.S. Srinivasan inviting him for bilateral parleys either between November 1 and 3 or between November 12-14, sources said. New Delhi has not yet conveyed its acceptance of Pakistan's invitation.

According to the draft Heads of Agreement, Turkmenistan has projected gas reserves of 159 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) in its Dauletabad fields, of which 34.26 Tcf would be dedicated to the project.