Iran backs deep-sea gas pipeline to India

Feasibility studies for the multi-billion-dollar conducted

Updated - December 17, 2013 08:53 pm IST

Published - December 17, 2013 02:52 am IST - DUBAI:

Iran is focusing on exporting natural gas to India along a deep-sea route — the move coinciding with the cancellation of a loan to Islamabad to build the Pakistani section of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline and the signing of the Geneva nuclear accord that could help relax sanctions against Tehran.

“Negotiations were held with three Indian companies for [their] purchase of gas from Iran, and general agreements have been reached,” said Ali Amirani, director of marketing at the National Iranian Gas Exports Company (NIGEC), as quoted by the Tasnim news agency.

He added that India’s South Asia Gas Enterprise Pvt. Ltd. (SAGE) had conducted feasibility studies for the multi-billion-dollar undersea pipeline, which could carry gas from Iran’s giant South Pars gas field to India’s west coast. Mr. Amirani said the project cost estimated by the company was $4-5 billion. Once operational, it could channel 31 million cubic meters of gas per day.

“We are in regular touch with the Iranians and at this moment they are the only country, among energy rich nations of the Persian Gulf, which has the surplus gas to export to India,” said Subodh Kumar Jain, Director SAGE, in a telephonic conversation with The Hindu . He added that there were no technical hurdles to build the deep sea pipeline, and the project, which was financially viable, could be completed in 4-5 years, once the sanctions against Iran are lifted. “There could be several options but one of them could be bringing Iranian gas to the port of Chabahar from where it could either be transferred directly along the seabed or via Oman, which could also become a beneficiary”.

Iran’s interest in the India-centric project coincides with the cancellation of its $500-million loan to Pakistan to build part of a pipeline to funnel natural gas. Iran’s deputy Oil Minister Ali Majedi said cash-strapped Iran was not obliged to finance the Pakistani side of the project.

In boosting exports, the Iranians have identified countries which could be linked with cost-effective pipelines to receive gas, and others which will have to depend on LNG tankers. “The Indian Subcontinent, Turkey and Europe are good markets for pipeline gas exports from Iran and the next step will be exporting cargoes of LNG for countries located farther,” said Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh. He added that Iran had a solid opportunity to strengthen exports as no other country in the Persian Gulf, except Qatar had any surplus to sell gas abroad.

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