New Delhi, April 4, IRNA -- With two proposed overland transnational pipelines through Pakistan caught in geopolitical knots, fresh efforts have been launched to revive a long-buried plan of establishing an international energy lifeline under the Arabian Sea to feed gas to India's fuel-guzzling economy from West Asia.
US-Tehran tensions and concerns over security situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan have bogged down progress on the pipelines from Iran and Turkmenistan, respectively. With India's gas demand expected to overshoot 200 million cubic metres a day from 170 at present, an engineering construction conglomerate, which has former Petroleum Secretary T N R Rao as a key member in the project team, has moved in to fill the void, Times of India reported here today.
Since December 2007 through February, South Asia Gas Enterprise (SAGE) has given presentations to the power and oil ministries, state- owned generation utility National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), gas utility GAIL, flagship refiner IndianOil, the Tata group, fertiliser companies besides government-run engineering consultancy firm Engineers India Ltd.
Last month, SAGE told a global audience at the 13th Middle East Gas Summit in Doha that its meeting with power ministry officials and NTPC executives was "very positive".
SAGE has revived the proposal of laying a pipeline under the sea between Oman's Ras al Jifan and coastal Gujarat's Rapar Gadhwali to ferry about 8 tcf (trillion cubic feet) of gas. Its presentation said gas could flow as early as 2012 and projected a requirement of $ 2.1-3.4 billion investment and a (transportation) tariff of around $ 1.1 to $ 1.8 per mbtu (million British thermal unit).
The presentation skirted the issue of identifying specific gas source, saying "over 2,000 tcf reserves are reported to be available in the Middle East", implying a common carrier nature.
The idea of an Oman-India submarine pipeline was first mooted by Rao when he was the oil secretary in the late 80s. It failed to get off the ground as it was found to be technologically too daring and, given the low global fuel price and Indian demand scenario, too costly. But with new technology in place and global prices spiralling along with domestic demand, the SAGE presentation said the project was possible, safe and economically viable.
Admittedly, sceptics abound even now and it's early days still.
But the fact is that several major gas pipelines around the world run under sea. Even Pakistan has a joint venture with Persian Gulf-South Asia ((P-Gusa) gas company of Qatar for laying a deepsea pipeline linking the two countries for bringing gas to Gwadar port and China is planning to tap into it once - if at all - it is built.
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