India, Iran, Oman set to build under sea energy pipelines

Mar 03, 2014 12:00 AM

The geopolitics of South Asia and the Middle East is all set to change as India is considering setting up energy pipelines from the Gulf region once again.

After the cancellation of India-Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project, the South Asian country has decided to set up energy pipelines jointly with Iran and Oman. This time, the pipelines will run under the sea. As a result, it will be easier for India to import gas from the Middle East bypassing neighbouring Pakistan.

Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid is of the opinion that the proposed energy pipeline will have the most positive regional consequence, with international sanctions on Tehran fading because of a nuclear agreement.

During their meeting in New Delhi, Khurshid and his Omani counterpart Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah discussed the issue. Later, they told the local media that oil and natural gas could be transported through deep sea pipelines from Iran to India via Oman in the future.

Abdullah said that even Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan could export energy through these pipelines for an ever-growing Indian market. He, meanwhile, revealed that Muscat had decided to invest USD 90 million on this particular project more than a decade ago. However, the plan has not been materialised so far.

Now, according to the visiting Omani minister, it will be easier to implement the project with the help of modern technology. Abdullah also suggested the pipelines could transport gas not only from Iran, but also from Qatar and other Central Asian countries that would ultimately help energy-hungry India.

Later, Khurshid also discussed the project with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and the latter expressed interest in implementing the project. Zarif said that the under sea energy pipelines project would be an interesting one, as the US would withdraw troops from Afghanistan. With the withdrawal of the US from Kabul, the TAPI pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan is fast losing its attractiveness, according to the Iranian minister.

The ‘Times of India’ daily reported that Iran would negotiate with Turkmenistan for an overland pipeline separately so that it could export gas to India.

“An undersea pipeline from Iran to India could be completed as quickly as three-four years. Our feasibility studies show they would cost in the region of USD 5 billion,” said Subodh Jain, a senior official of Sage – the Indian entity that would acquire technology for constructing such pipelines.

Jain also said: “India relies on LNG. But it’s the equivalent of relying on champagne. If we stick to LNG, we will become addicted to expensive energy imports. Therefore, a gas pipeline particularly for the power sector, makes eminent sense. Very soon, almost 20,000 MW of gas-fuelled power plants will go idle in India due to gas shortage. Pipelines are overdue here.”

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