Iran-Pak-India natural gas pipeline still a possibility

Iran-Pak-India natural gas pipeline still a possibility

The once-proposed Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) natural gas pipeline project is not dead.

In discussion

“This could be revived if Iran could come to an agreement on the nuclear issue with six global powers,” Pakistan High Commissioner to India, Abdul Basit, told BusinessLine at the MCC Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Wednesday.

Iran is in discussion with the US, China, France, Germany and UK on issues related to its enriched uranium stockpile.

Pakistan’s envoy indicated that international sanctions on Iran were working against the project.

The trilateral 2,700 km project could not take off after prolonged negotiations since 1995. In 2007, India and Pakistan agreed to pay a base price of $4.93 for a British thermal unit of gas from Iran’s North-South Pars gas field.

Sized matters

India withdrew from the project in 2009 over unacceptable size of the pipe, pricing and security issues.

Pakistan, which signed an initial agreement with Iran in 2009, also could not carry through the project under pressure from the US. The High Commissioner said a joint business council was currently studying issues, including trade through third country, to increase bilateral trade between the two south Asian neighbours.

It is estimated that informal trading between two countries through Dubai was three times more than that of the formal figure.

Meeting with Mamata

Pakistan’s High Commissioner met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday. Basit, who is here on a three-day visit, said he has invited her to Pakistan. He also said that certain proposals were offered.

However, the High Commissioner did not give details of the proposals.

After the 30-minute meeting, Basit said, “It was a dream come true.” Pakistan diplomat earlier indicated that Islamabad was supporting provincial cooperation across the border.

“Apart from bilateral ties, there could be trade and cultural cooperation between say Sind or (West) Punjab and West Bengal,” he added.

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