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India's Petroleum Minister: Iran vote not to affect pipeline, LNG imports

New Delhi, Sept 27, IRNA-India today said its vote against Iran's nuclear program will not affect prospects of the proposed 7.4- billion-dollar Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline and its 22 billion dollar deal to import LNG from Tehran, reports PTI.

"No, I do not believe current developments would in any way adversely affect the progress made on the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline or the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG)," Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar told PTI here.

New Delhi had last week along with the US and EU voted on a resolution that could refer Iran to the UN Security Council for sanctions if Tehran did not abandon its nuclear program.

Iran is reported to have expressed disappointment over India's stand at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and its ambassador had stated that the fate of the LNG deal and the pipeline would now depend on New Delhi's future stand.

Aiyar said he was in agreement with the government's decision on the IAEA vote.

India had in June, prior to the installation of the new Iranian government led by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, inked a pact with Tehran to import 5 million tons of LNG per annum beginning 2009-10, but the agreement is yet to be ratified by the board of the National Iranian Oil Company, the firm that is to execute it.

"I am aware that the NIOC has not yet ratified the LNG deal," Aiyar said. He, however, anticipated no problems on that front.

Meanwhile, Iran, Pakistan and India are continuing negotiations on the proposed 2,400-km pipeline and hope to finalize a tripartite agreement by year-end for the project to take-off.

Both LNG imports and the pipeline project are essential for India to meet its growing energy demands.

Aiyar said he was waiting for the appointment of Iran's new oil minister before establishing contact and hoped that he would be able to strike the same kind of relationship he had with the previous minister.

India's imports of natural gas through pipeline and in the liquefied state (LNG) through ships from Iran would more than double the present supplies of gas, which barely meets half its demand.

New Delhi hopes to import 90 million standard cubic meters per day of gas through the pipeline and one-fifth of the quantity in the form of LNG. India's current gas supplies are around 91 mmscmd.

Asked if Iran would be able to procure technology to liquefiy gas (for transport as LNG), Aiyar said: "That liquefication technology which is tightly held has been known to Iranians and Indians alike before we entered into the LNG pact. They (Iranians) are quite confident of being able to procure that...they will be able to meet their supply and purchase the requirements.

The petroleum minister further said that while a deal for the import of a million tons of LNG was sealed in June there has been disagreement over the price of an additional 2.5 million tons.

"We hope to begin negotiations for the additional volume soon," he said.

... Payvand News - 9/27/05 ... --

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