NATIONAL

Deora’s visit to Pakistan put off

Sujay Mehdudia

Setback to talks on pipeline projects



Uncertainty led to postponement

Tariff fee yet to be decided



NEW DELHI: Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora’s visit to Pakistan later this month has been postponed, causing a setback to the talks on the putting in place of the strategic Iran-Pakistan-India and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan- Pakistan- India pipelines.

Mr. Deora was to lead a high level delegation to Islamabad on November 28 and 29 to sign the formal agreement of India joining the Asian Development Bank (ADB)-sponsored TAPI pipeline. Highly placed sources said the “uncertainty” in Pakistan after the imposition of emergency and the holding of general elections there had forced the postponement of the visit. The sources said the ADB was also having a re-think on holding the Steering Committee of the TAPI pipeline in Islamabad in view of the sensitive political situation.Mr. Deora indicated last week that during his visit to Pakistan, he would take up the imposition of transit fee on the IPI pipeline and sort out the situation, paving the way for India to sign a trilateral agreement soon. New Delhi and Islamabad had reached a broad understanding on the transportation tariff payable to Pakistan for wheeling natural gas through the 1,035-km pipeline segment in that country. But the two nations had yet to decide on a transit fee payable to Pakistan for allowing usage of its territory for passage of the pipeline to India. Islamabad had sought $0.493 per mBtu while New Delhi offered $0.20 per mBtu.

The proposed TAPI pipeline will have a capacity of 33 billion cubic metres of natural gas per annum. The 1,680 km pipeline will run from the Dauletabad gas field to Afghanistan. From there, it will be constructed alongside the highway running from Herat to Kandahar, and then via Quetta and Multan in Pakistan. The final destination of the pipeline will be Fazilka, near the India-Pakistan border.

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