India says still pursuing Iran ‘peace pipeline’

Energy-hungry India said on Tuesday it was still hoping to import natural gas from Iran through a much-delayed pipeline, but said contentious issues such as pricing must be resolved.

The long-stalled 7.5-billion-dollar transnational gas pipeline, dubbed the “peace pipeline”, was supposed to carry gas from Iran, which has the world’s second-richest gas reserves after Russia, to Pakistan and then India.

But India has hesitated to join the project because of repeated disputes about prices and transit fees and its volatile relationship with Pakistan.

“We are making all efforts. The project is not sidelined,” junior petroleum and natural gas minister Jitin Prasada told parliament.

“Three nations are involved and many technical aspects are being discussed,” Prasada said.

“Till we get assurances about issues like pricing of gas, delivery point of gas, project structure, payment of transportation tariff and transit fees for passage of natural gas through Pakistan, talks will continue.”

Earlier this year, Islamabad signed a deal with Tehran paving the way for building the pipeline, which would link Iran’s South Fars gas field with Pakistan’s Balochistan and Sindh provinces.

“We are not relying on Iran alone and are talking to other nations also. We have a (supply) agreement for 25 years with Qatar,” Prasada said.