Pakistan, Iran say gas pipeline. India says all gas
in the light of the recent thaw in Indo-Pak relations, both Pakistan and Iran are mounting pressure on India to agree upon the much talked about overland gas pipeline project. At the recently concluded South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (saarc) summit in Islamabad, India's Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was urged by his Pakistani counterpart, Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, to seriously consider participating in the proposed project. Pakistan would earn as much as us $700 million per year in transit fees for the pipeline.
Iran has the world's second largest gas reserves after Russia. The energy-starved Indian market is the only one at present to which it can supply gas in bulk through a pipeline, which is the cheapest method. The Iranian deputy minister of petroleum and gas, M R Nematzadeh, had reiterated in early December that the proposed pipeline would cut down the cost of gas in the Indian market and mitigate the shortages. India imports 50 per cent of its gas, and the energy consumption is increasing by about 5 per cent every year. But India has refused to even consider the proposal due to safety concerns for a pipeline going through Pakistan.
In late December 2003, M M Mokhtari, consul general of Iran in India, said at a meeting in Mumbai that the feasibility study report for the project is expected by March this year. Mokhtari said Iran would be financing 65 per cent of the estimated cost of us $2 billion. Highly placed officials in a public sector oil company informed Down To Earth that the Indian government has not even considered the pre-feasibility report. "Iran is preparing the feasibility report for only till Pakistan because it is dead keen to sell gas," said an official. Pakistani and Iranian officials met a few days prior to the saarc summit and decided to go ahead with the project irrespective of the Indian position. But the pipeline would not be viable if it doesn't come to India as the Pakistani gas market is very small.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.