New Delhi: India remains committed to a multi-billion dollar gas pipeline through Pakistan from Iran despite failing to attend a new round of talks underway in Tehran, officials said Tuesday, 25 September.
The three nations are yet to agree on the price of gas Iran plans to sell to energy-starved India, an oil ministry official, who did not wish to be identified, told AFP.
“Of course we are committed to the pipeline, there is no doubt about it. But the price is the issue,” he said.
“The price that we agree to with Iran will determine at what price the gas will be sold domestically in India ultimately. So, that is a very sensitive issue for us.”
Another oil ministry official said India had agreed to a pricing formula arrived at by Iran and Pakistan in January but that then “fell through”.
“We were to talk to Pakistani officials bilaterally before these talks in Tehran,” which started Monday, he said.
As that did not happen, we decided to wait and see what the outcome of the Iran-Pakistan talks are,“ the official added.
Discussions on the $7.4-billion project started in 1994, but have been held up by technical and commercial issues amid US displeasure over major economic deals with Iran at a time of tensions over its nuclear drive.
The 2,600-km (1,600-mile) pipeline from Iran’s giant South Pars gas field is initially set to carry around 60 million standard cubic metres of gas per day.
India, which imports more than 70% of its energy needs, has been racing to secure new supplies of oil and gas from abroad besides ramping up production from domestic sources to sustain scorching economic growth.
Pakistan will also receive gas. India will pay Pakistan for the cost of shipping its share of the gas to the Indian border.
Iran has the world’s second largest gas reserves after Russia but has remained a relatively minor player in the global export market.