Oman, Iran, and India caught in a love triangle over pipelines

Published March 2nd, 2014 - 09:55 GMT
India imports around 75 per cent of its crude oil
India imports around 75 per cent of its crude oil

Energy-deficient India discussed the possibility of reviving a project for a deep sea pipeline connecting Oman and Iran to India, a top Indian official said.

The $5 billion proposal was discussed separately with Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid and Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif during the meeting on Friday.

Confirming the discussions, Syed Akbaruddin, the official spokesperson of India's Ministry of External Affairs, tweeted to Times of Oman that "the issue of considering this further figured in both the meetings."

According to reports in the Indian media, the pipeline would be mutually advantageous for Iran and India, with the former having a massive surplus of gas and the latter having high energy needs. India imports around 75 per cent of its crude oil.

According to reports in the Iranian media, the Iran-Oman-India pipeline would source its gas from Iran's South Pars oil and gas fields located in the Arabian Gulf. The pipeline would be 1,400 kilometres long.

In December 2013, reports emerged that an Indian firm had conducted feasibility studies for the proposed deep sea pipeline route with favourable results.

The cost estimate by India's South Asia Gas Enterprise Pvt Ltd (SAGE) was around $4-5 billion. The pipeline is expected to carry 31 million cubic metres of gas per day.

Also, in December, the marketing manager for Iran's National Iranian Gas Exports Co. said, "Negotiations were held with three Indian companies for purchasing gas from Iran, and general agreements have been reached," referring to gas that would be delivered via this pipeline.

The deep sea pipeline would be an alternative for India to the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline which ran into several complications after Pakistan failed to meet its obligations in a timely manner.

According to Indian official sources, India and Iran have also agreed to take a decision on Chabahar port by March-end during the meeting of External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid with his Iranian counterpart, Javad Sharif, there.

Khurshid and Sharif met and "Indian interest in Chabahar port figured prominently during the meeting between them and it was agreed that specific proposals regarding the port could be finalised by Nawruz holidays in Iran (in March-end)," they said.

The two sides also reviewed the entire expanse of the bilateral relationship and emphasised the strong political will in both countries to nurture bilateral relations.

With Oman, talks also touched on "developments in the Gulf, Afghanistan, Syria as well as the Indian Ocean region in general as both Oman and India are members of the Indian Ocean Rim Association", sources added.

© Muscat Media Group

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