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India may invest in gas pipeline project from Iran

New Delhi, Aug 5, IRNA-The prospects of Iran-India gas pipeline project looked particularly bright when Iran and Pakistan - through which the pipeline will be constructed to India - signed a basic agreement over the project last month.

Iran's Deputy Petroleum Minister Hadi Nejad-Hosseinian arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday for talks with Indian officials on how to push the project further toward reality. Nevertheless, the announcement in local media on Friday that India may invest in the project brought even more good news for the supporters of the "Peace Pipeline" scheme.

The media have also reported that the latest Indian position is a departure from its earlier stance that it would only take delivery of gas on the Indo-Pakistan border.

The Hindu has quoted unnamed Indian Petroleum Ministry officials as saying that a cabinet approval will have to be sought for joining the project consortium.

The officials said after the conclusion of the two-day meeting of the Indo-Iran Joint Working Group that India's involvement in the project would also help to ensure the security of the pipeline.

India and Pakistan are expected to appoint financial consultants by the end of the month to outline the project structure.

The press have also quoted Iran's Deputy Oil Minister for International Affairs Hadi Nejad-Hosseinian as saying that the project structure should be in place by November.

This could involve the three countries laying the pipeline separately in their territory or having a consortium of Indian, Pakistani and Iranian companies along with international firms, which would build and operate the pipeline.

At the end of the meeting, a statement issued said that as soon as an agreement on the project structure was reached, the trilateral framework accord would be finalized by the year-end.

The Indian side reiterated its commitment to carry forward the project.

On the question of security of the pipeline which is the main concern of the Indian side, Hosseinian said it was a "very important" issue, which needed to be addressed in the framework agreement.

As for requirement, he said India and Pakistan sought more than the capacity of the 56-inch pipeline. It would have a capacity of only 120 million standard cubic metres of gas a day.

An Indian technical team will visit Teheran in the third week of this month to review the pre-feasibility report prepared jointly by the National Iranian Gas Export Company (NIGEC) and BHP Billiton.

... Payvand News - 8/5/05 ... --

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