Iran said Tuesday, December 4 it was waiting for a feasibility report next year before deciding whether a six billion-dollar gas pipeline to India should pass onshore through India's arch-rival Pakistan. S. Mohammad Hossein Adeli, Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister, told reporters a feasibility study was also being conducted for an alternative offshore route skirting Pakistan's economic zone.
"The result of the feasibility study will be known in spring 2002," he said, adding the pipeline would have a capacity for carrying 66 million cubic meters (4.1 million cubic feet) of gas taken from the Asuliyeh gasfield. The initial proposal made in 1994 was that nearly 30 percent of the gas would be supplied to Pakistan, while 70 percent would be given to India.
The pipeline was due to pass 1,100 kilometers (665 miles) through Iran, 700 kilometers (430 miles) in Pakistan and 850 kilometers (520 miles) in India. The project has been bogged down as India has been apprehensive about the security of the project because of long-standing rivalry with Pakistan, with which it has had three wars.
Pakistan has "assured safety" of the pipeline in an undertaking to Iran. This is after New Delhi expressed reservations about the security of the 2,650-kilometer (1,650-mile) pipeline's passage through Pakistan, which is plagued by sectarian and political violence. The plan outlined by Tehran envisaged a foreign consortium buying gas from Iran and selling it to India for 30 years.
Iranian officials had earlier assured India the consortium would accept any responsibility for possible disruption of supplies by the transit state. Adeli said he was hopeful construction of the gas pipeline could go ahead.
"The developments in Afghanistan has given a better chance for the gas pipeline project materializing as there will be a more secure environment for the construction," he said. — (AFP, New Delhi)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )