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India may consider Iranian gas pipeline via Pakistan: report

Tehran, June 6, IRNA -- External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh says New Delhi is willing to consider the gas pipeline from Iran via Pakistan if Islamabad provides international security guarantees.

The daily Nation, quoting the minister, said on its website that India also wanted to have the 'closest' relations with Pakistan based on 'reciprocity and realism'.

In a bid to tap the growing gas market in India, Iran has offered equity stake in its gigantic South Pars gas field provided New Delhi buys the gas produced from the fields.

The 3,700-square km South Pars gas field, which is an extension of the Qatar north dome gas field, is located 105-km southwest of the Asalouyeh port in the Persian Gulf.

It has an estimated 14 trillion standard cubic meters of in-place gas reserves and 18 billion barrels of condensate in multiple strata.

The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) has decided to develop the field in phases to secure the increasing internal demand for natural gas. The country also plans to use it for re-injection in its oil fields and export.

India has reservations, fearing that Pakistan could disrupt supplies in the event of any major problem in their relations.

Islamabad says it has no objection to the multi-billion pipeline, with President General Pervez Musharraf assuring that Pakistan would guarantee 100 percent security to the proposed project.

Officials from both sides say with the positive environment between Islamabad and New Delhi widening, chances for implementation of the Indo-Iranian gas pipeline project are good.

The pipeline, they have said, lays a big economic chance for India and Pakistan and urged both countries to come forward to make the gas pipeline project a reality.

The project, if implemented, could trigger greater economic activity in the region. Pakistan would earn an estimated 600 million dollars annually as transit fee in case the pipeline is built.

India's Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has shown interest in the project in partnership with Gas Authority of India Limited.

NIGEC, Gail, Interstate and Sui Gas of Pakistan are the other consortia which have intimated their willingness to participate.

Meanwhile, BHP of Australia is said to have conducted a 'desktop' study on the onland option from Iran to Pakistan, pending an extension to India after government-to-government discussions between India and Pakistan.

... Payvand News - 6/6/04 ... --

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