India, Iran mull project bypassing Pakistan


May 26, 2010

MOSCOW: India and Iran are holding talks for building a gas pipeline between the two countries along the bed of the Arabian Sea to bypass Pakistan.

“The annual capacity of the gas pipeline’s first leg will be 31 billion cubic metres, with a construction cost of around US $4 billion,” THP Pao, a member of the board of directors and head of the supervisory board of the South Asia Gas Enterprise Private Ltd (SAGE), said. According to RIA Novosti news agency, SAGE, which is developing the project, made the statement ahead of a visit by Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov to India.

Pao said India and Iran were discussing the delivery of natural gas produced in Turkmenistan with India’s assistance to north Iran while the Islamic Republic will send natural gas from its southern deposits to Indian consumers. A diplomatic source confirmed that New Delhi had discussed the project with Tehran and Ashgabat and received their support. Under the project being worked out by SAGE, the gas pipeline will be 1,100-kilometres long. The submersible part of the pipeline will start from the Iranian port city of Chabahar and will deliver gas to consumers in Indian state of Gujarat. According to SAGE, international investors will also finance the gas pipeline project.

In particular, Italian companies have expressed their readiness to join the project. India, Iran and Pakistan have been discussing the project of building a gas pipeline for the past three years. However, negotiations have dragged on due to the worsening of relations between India and Pakistan.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 27th, 2010.

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