India-Iran-Pak gas pipeline in limbo

The ambitious India-Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project may not be materialised because of differences between the two South Asian neighbours.

Speaking at recent Gulf Intelligence Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi, former Indian Ambassador to the UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia Talmiz Ahmad said that despite making a tremendous progress by the three countries, the project could not see the light of the day due to the current state of Indo – Pak relations. He also said that the problem is not with Iran, as they reached up to the price stage. “But then the problems began due to the collapse of Musharraf regime. I do not believe the pipeline will happen,” added Ahmad.

The seasoned diplomat stressed that India, which does not have potential oil reserves, imports 80% of petroleum products from the Gulf region. “The import dependency will be 90% in the medium term to long term. There might be a shift towards renewables and nuclear, but it is uncertain. It will be a fossil fuel based economy,” he told the audience.

Currently, India negotiates with Iran to construct a USD 4.5 billion under sea gas pipeline, bypassing Pakistan, to meet its growing demand for oil. In Tehran, a senior government official has confirmed that Iran will start shipping crude oil to India – its old business partner. According to the Iranian official, the West Asian nation was waiting for the UN nuclear watchdog’s clean chit to its nuclear programme.

“Indian crude demand is growing faster than other Asian countries. Like our competitors, we see this country as one of the main targets for Asian sales,” the Iranian official further said, adding: “Iran hopes to raise its exports to India by 200,000 bpd, up from the 260,000 bpd currently shipped under sanctions’ restrictions.”

 

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