New Delhi, Feb 9, IRNA -- The Indian cabinet Wednesday permitted the Petroleum Ministry to hold talks with Pakistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan to secure gas supplies for India through pipelines.
Highlighting the decision, India's Petroleum Minister Mani Shanker Aiyar said that following the meeting "it will significantly enhance oil security of the country."
The three pipelines to India are from Iran to India through Pakistan, another from Turkmenistan to India through Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the third from Myanmar to India through Bangladesh, he said.
The Indian cabinet also decided it would discuss enhancement of investment by ONGC Videsh Ltd, but it was not able to take up the subject.
Talmiz Ahmed, a career diplomat, has been appointed additional secretary in the Petroleum Ministry. Prior to his appointment, he was additional secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs.
Pakistan welcomes Indian decision on gas pipeline talks
Islamabad, Feb 9, IRNA -- Pakistan has welcomed the Indian government's decision directing its Petroleum Ministry to hold talks with Pakistan to get gas supplies through pipelines.
"This is good news and they (India) is welcomed," Petroleum Minister Amanullah Khan Jadoon told a news conference in Islamabad.
Reports suggest that the Indian cabinet on Wednesday gave the green light to the Petroleum Ministry to hold talks with Pakistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan to secure gas supplies for India through pipelines.
India had been concerned over the security of the proposed US$3.5 billion gas pipeline from Iran through Pakistan, an idea the three countries have been pursuing for the past several years.
A 2,600-kilometer landline would be a huge boost for energy- starved India and Pakistan.
"We are ready to remove all concerns and reservations of India," Khan said, adding that the project has been delayed due to India's concerns.
"We will welcome if India joins the project," the Pakistani minister said.
Iran has been pursuing the pipeline proposal with India and Pakistan since 1996, but tensions over Kashmir have blocked progress.
Pakistan would have access to Iranian gas as well as earn an estimated US$600 million a year in transit fees.
The proposed gasline would save India around US$300 million a year in energy costs.
Khan said that Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz will discuss the project with the Iranian leadership when he travels to Tehran later this month.
Pakistan has also been holding talks with Qatar and Turkmenistan for gas pipeline projects for years.
Khan said that the Qatari oil minister is scheduled to arrive in Islamabad on February 15 for talks on the project.
He said petroleum ministers of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan will gather in Islamabad next month to discuss the progress so far achieved on the gas pipeline project.
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