India interested in Caspian oil and gas

Jun 08, 2005 02:00 AM

by Ammar Zaidi

India, whose energy demands have been growing along with its economy, is eyeing possibilities of its firms picking up stakes in oil and gas fields in the Caspian region to meet its fuel needs.
India's Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar will pay a two-day visit to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, from to explore possibilities of tapping Caspian oil through a pipeline from the southern tip of Azerbaijan across Iran to the Gulf, from where crude can be shipped to India.

India, which imported 95.9 mm tons crude in 2004-05, has so far not been able to source any crude from the Caspian Sea region due to absence of links with the major exporting ports there.
"Could one drag it (crude oil) down to the Arabian Sea is what I will explore," said Ayar, who earlier held talks with Pakistan government officials on laying an a gas pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan.

The Caspian Sea region, located about 1,600 km south of Moscow, has emerged as a focal point for untapped oil and natural gas resources. In May, a pipeline from the southern section of the Caspian Sea to the Turkish seaport of Ceyhan was operationalised, bringing the Caspian oil out of the region for the first time.
Besides oil from Azerbaijan, crude oil from Kazakhstan could also be pooled by shipping it from Aktau port to Baku and then pumping it down Iran to the Gulf, he said.
"There is also the Blue Stream project that carries Caspian gas to Turkey. Are there any ways by which we can bring the gas by joining it with the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline?" he wondered aloud.

Aiyar said possibilities of ONGC Videsh, the overseas arm of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), picking up equity in oil and gas fields would also be explored during the two-day visit. He said an energy corridor could be built on the same route as the North-South transport corridor, linking the Central Asian region with the South East.
“North-South Corridor is restarting of the silk route. We have to see if the same could not be converted into an energy corridor with Finland in the north and Singapore in the south."

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