29 May 2007 - 13:12
  • News Code: 105853

Russia"s Gazprom says it is interested in taking part in the planned Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline.

"We are willing to cooperate with these two states (Pakistan and India) and the IPI pipeline is one of the giant projects in which that Russia can play its role," Abubakir Shamuzov, the head of Gazprom " s office in Iran, told Shana, the news service of the Iranian Petroleum Ministry, over the weekend. He also said the pipeline could extend to China, Asia"s No. 1 energy consumer.

 

Separately, Indian Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora said Monday all sides were trying hard to make the pipeline a reality.

 

"We are trying very hard to push through the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline," he said. "India and Pakistan will get much-needed gas supplies when it comes through. Talks with Pakistan are going on at a high level. ... We are trying hard to arrive at a solution. It is, however, too early to say anything right now." The comments were reported by Asian News International.

 

The $7.4 billion, 1,700-mile pipeline would run from Iran to India via Pakistan and supply some 90 million cubic meters of Iranian gas to India and 60 million cubic meters to Pakistan every day. Talks have been stalled on that issue because of two factors: the price of Iranian gas and transit fees that India must pay to Pakistan.

 

Iran wants to sell natural gas to the two countries at $4.93 per mBtu, using the price of oil at $60 per barrel as a benchmark.

 

The future of the IPI pipeline is uncertain, however, because of strong U.S. opposition to the deal. Washington fears international agreements with Iran will only embolden the country to acquire nuclear weapons. Funding may also be difficult because of the countries the pipeline would traverse. Washington has said it backs a pipeline that supplies Turkmen gas to South Asia.

 

Last week, however, World Bank Vice President Praful Patel told reporters in Islamabad, Pakistan, that the bank may fund either IPI or the pipeline from Turkmenistan to India via Afghanistan and Pakistan. He noted, however, that the bank has not been formally or informally approached about the project.

 

 

PIN/UPI

News Code 105853

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