4 May 2007 - 17:55
  • News Code: 103801
Indian Oil Minister Denies US Pressure on IPI Project

NEW DELHI -- India"s Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora Thursday denied US or any other pressure on India on the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project.

"There is no question of the US or any other country interfering in India"s internal affairs," Deora informed the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Indian Parliament) during question hour which was telecasted live.

He assured the house, "There is no such fear and India cannot be pressurized."

We are going ahead with our discussions on the pipeline project with Iran and Pakistan, he said when asked whether top US leaders like US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had put any pressure on India.

Replying to a question regarding security of the project in Pakistan, Deora said Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, during his recent visit to India, had himself guaranteed that there will be no problems to the project.

The 2,135 km long pipeline would be built at a total cost of about USD 7 billion, he said.

Deora said the government was also pursuing import of natural gas from Iran in national interests in order to meet energy requirements.

He said the Joint Working Group (JWG) between India and Pakistan had been meeting regularly and had last met in February.

The technical sub-group also met in March and discussed transit fee and transportation cost.

These meetings would continue, the minister said.

Deora on Wednesday met Iranian Oil Minister Seyed Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh and Pakistan"s Petroleum Minister Amanullah Khan Jadoon in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in an attempt to narrow down the differences on the issues relating to the $45 billion Iran-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline project.

At the meeting with the Iranian Minister, on the sidelines of the Second Ministerial Energy Roundtable of Asian Oil Producing and Oil Importing Countries in Riyadh, Mr. Deora discussed the vexed issue of the Liquefied Natural Gas contract as a follow-up of their last meeting in Tehran last week.

He is understood to have touched upon the issue of increase in price sought by Tehran for the natural gas supply for which an agreement was signed in June 2005.

Mr. Deora told Mr. Vaziri Hamaneh that India was ready to buy the additional gas at a higher price but the June 2005 agreement for supply of 5 million metric tonnes of gas should be honoured.

Mr. Deora also met Mr. Jadoon and both leaders are understood to have discussed the issue of transportation and transit fee that is being demanded by Pakistan for supply of gas to India. He had a bilateral meeting with Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain Al-Shahristani and raised the issue of moving forward with ONGC Videsh Limited"s participation in Iraq"s upstream oil sector.

The Iraqi Minister invited Indian Oil Corporation and Engineers India Limited to consider participation in the downstream sector of Iraq, in particular for the construction of an oil refinery.

 

PAKISTAN, IRAN SPEED UP IPI

Pakistani and Iranian oil ministers meanwhile met Thursday in Riyadh on the sideline of an Asian energy conference and agreed to speed up the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, according to message received from Saudi Arabia.

Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Amanullah Jadoon and Iranian Oil Minister Seyed Kazem Viziri Hamaneh are attending the 2nd Asian Energy Ministerial Roundtable in the Saudi Arabian capital.

The ministers agreed that there exists a lot of potential and opportunities for expanding bilateral cooperation and exchanged views on avenues of cooperation in various fields, particularly in the oil and gas sector.

 

WORLD BANK OFFERS

 

The World Bank has expressed its readiness to fund the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline and described the $7 billion project as a `win-win deal" despite US reservations about the project.

World Bank vice president Praful Patel said although the bank has not been approached by Pakistan to this effect formally or informally, the bank was ready to fund as and when approached.

"IPI gas pipeline project is a win-win project for Pakistan and India besides being good and quite feasible in catering to the energy needs of Pakistan and India," he said.

If the IPI project materializes, Pakistan would get an annual transit fee from India, which would play a pivotal role in strengthening its economy, Patel said.

He said the bank also supports the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) gas pipeline project. "If Pakistan would come to ask for funding for any of the pipelines, the World Bank would seriously consider extending the funding," he said.

The bank would give a serious consideration to finance these projects if approached, he said.

An Iranian oil official, meanwhile, suggested that Iran would welcome any involvement by the Russian oil giant Gazprom in the project, adding it would speed progress.

Gholam-Hossein Nozari, managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company, did not say whether Iran had been in contact with Gazprom on the issue and failed to provide details on what kind of participation he had in mind.

"Gazprom is a capable and big company and if it enters the peace pipeline, it will help with the progress and speed up the operation," Isna quoted him as saying.

 

News Code 103801

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