Deora in Pakistan to talk on TAPI and IPI pipelines

April 22nd, 2008 - 7:27 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 22 (IANS) Indian petroleum minister Murli Deora will hold talks in Pakistan on two important gas pipeline projects - Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) - over the next three days. “We have been invited by Asian Development Bank to attend the steering committee meeting of the TAPI project, which we will be joining,” Deora told reporters Tuesday a few hours before he left for Islamabad.

Deora will take part in the two-day-long deliberations of the steering committee sponsored by the Asian Development Bank Wednesday and Thursday.

Later on April 25, he will hold bilateral talks with his Pakistani counterpart on the remaining bilateral differences on the IPI pipeline.

Deora was earlier to travel to Islamabad from Rome, where he was the scheduled keynote speaker at the International Energy Forum Monday. But, due to conflicting flight schedules, he cancelled his visit to Rome and went straight to Pakistan.

Earlier last week, official-level talks had been held between India and Pakistan on the technical differences that still persist on the transit fees and transportation charges of the IPI pipeline project.

The 2,600 kilometre long pipeline will supply 60 million cubic metres (mcm) of gas from Iran’s Fars fields, which will be shared equally between India and Pakistan.

India wants the transit fees to account only for about five percent of the price of delivered gas, while Pakistan has been arguing for double that figure. Similarly, the transportation tariff demanded by Pakistan is $1.57 per million British thermal unit of gas supply, while India is looking for a much lower figure of about $0.69 to $0.70.

Officials said that besides these two points, India and Pakistan will also deliberate upon evolving a common position on the gas price issue vis-à-vis Iran. Lately, there have been statements by Iranian oil officials about the need to revise the price, in line with rising gas prices in the international market.

“There is likely to be a trilateral meeting (between India, Iran and Pakistan) after this (bilateral) meeting, but it has not yet been agreed on. It will depend on my talks in Pakistan,” said Deora.

Besides, the multilateral discussions on the 1,680-km TAPI pipeline are significant, as India will formally join the project. It had attended previous meetings as an observer.

The ministers of the four countries are like to sign a Gas Pipeline Framework Agreement and a Project Heads of Agreement.

The TAPI pipeline, still at a preliminary stage, is being promoted by the US as an alternative to meeting India’s energy demand. The US opposes the IPI project due to the participation of Iran.

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