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Pakistan, India open talks on gas pipeline

Islamabad, Sept 8, IRNA-Senior Pakistani and Indian officials on Thursday opened two-day talks in Islamabad on the proposed multi-billion dollars Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, a petroleum ministry official said.

Indian Petroleum Secretary SC Tripathy is leading a five-member delegation in the second Pakistan-India Joint Working Group (JWG).

Ahmed Waqar, Pakistan Secretary Petroleum is leading his side of experts.

The JWG would discuss issues relating to a framework agreement, land acquisition, reserve certification, gas demand in India and Pakistan, transit fee, project structure, gas pricing mechanism, pipeline size and other related subjects.

The 2,670-km $ 4.5 billion pipeline will bring gas from Iran's South Pars field to India via Pakistan.

Reports said that India is likely to submit a draft text of a framework agreement to the Pakistani side during the meeting. Both sides are expected to ink the agreement during the meeting.

Reports said that a delegation of Russian firm Gazprom will visit Pakistan early next month to begin discussions to lead a consortium for the construction of the pipeline.

Gazprom Chairman Alexey Miller Borisovich will lead the delegation to Islamabad on October 6 and remain there for three days to hold talks with the top leaders and officials of the Petroleum Ministry and Gas Companies.

It will be the first visit to Pakistan by the Chairman of Gazprom, considered as the world's largest gas company with over 20 percent share in global gas production.

Pakistan is apparently expecting to seek 8 to 21 billion dollars in transit fee over a period of 30 years for allowing use of its territory to lay the gas pipeline.

Gazprom, along with TotalFinaelf of France and Malaysian Petronas, is the major shareholder of Iranian South Pars field, from where Iran would supply gas to Pakistan and India through the trans-national pipeline.

The Russian energy giant has already held numerous rounds of talks with authorities in Iran and India to lead or at least become an active player in the consortium to lay the pipeline. Indian companies like Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and GAIL are also expected to join the consortium.

... Payvand News - 9/8/05 ... --

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