Washington: At a time when lawmakers in the US are threatening to come down heavily on companies and countries doing business with Tehran, a top World Bank official has said the gas option from Iran is perhaps the best for the South Asian region, especially India.
Talking to mediapersons here on the eve of the start of the 14th SAARC Summit, Praful Patel, the Vice President for South Asia at the Bank argued that the technical analysis made by the organisation has shown that the proposed pipeline from Iran could bring gas to Mumbai at the lowest cost, one-third cheaper than the closest alternative.
Patel also said Bangladesh should allow India to use its gas for the benefit of the region as any value addition by Dhaka itself would not be cost-effective.
He along with The Bank’s Chief Economist for South Asia, Shantayanan Devarajan were pointing out the large-scale economic and business benefits of faster integration of the region of South Asia especially as it has to do with in the areas of energy and water.
Currently, South Asia lags most other regions in terms of trade in electricity and gas. Energy endowments differ among South Asian countries, but energy trade in the region is low.
Only India, Bhutan, and Nepal currently trade electricity. Bangladesh is endowed with natural gas reserves, but gas trade is constrained by the region’s inadequate infrastructure and political misconceptions, the Bank said.
Pakistan and Afghanistan can play an important role as transit states for the rest of South Asia, as they provide the best route for access to Central Asia’s energy,it said.