India Seeking to Bolster Ties with Iran
TEHRAN (FNA)- India is seeking to boost relations with Iran in all fields, including energy, the country's Ambassador to Iran Manbir Singh said.
India says it considers its own national interests and wants to develop relations with Iran without being intimidated by political pressure.
"Iran and India could develop relations not only in the field of energy but also in new industries, mineral products and banking activities," press tv quoted Indian Ambassador to Iran Manbir Singh as saying Sunday in a meeting at Tehran's chamber of commerce.
The minister stressed that India would not let outside political pressure distract the developing relations between the two countries.
Iran and India have recently approved several memorandums of understanding including the declaration of Bandar-e Shahid Rajaei and Jawaharlal Nehru port as sister cities and cooperating in agriculture and trade.
Tehran and New Delhi are have also expressed commitment to continue talks on the huge 2,775-kilometer pipeline project that will transfer 60 million cubic meters of natural gas per day from Iran to Pakistan and India.
This is while some media outlets had speculated that New Delhi is being influenced by US pressure to quit the project. According to the speculations, the country is not willing to carry out the gas pipeline project, as New Delhi is now a nuclear nation.
The Indian Ambassador to Iran rejected the speculations, and said, "India is a big energy consumer and we are interested to see the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline built."
Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said earlier in November that the US-Indo nuclear deal would have no impact on energy ties with Iran.
Nuclear power "is one source of energy, the other important source is the IPI gas pipeline. One is not exclusive to the other," Mukherjee said.
Iran and Pakistan initiated a Gas Sales Purchase Agreement earlier this year while Indian and Pakistani officials announced they had resolved almost all bilateral issues, including transit fee which saw New Delhi boycotting IPI pipeline talks for about a year.
India has more or less agreed to give Pakistan a transit fee of $200 million per year, which is equivalent to $0.60 per million British thermal unit for allowing passage of the pipeline through that country.
India and Pakistan finally agreed in February 2007 to pay Iran $4.93 per million British thermal units ($4.67/GJ) but some details relating to price adjustment remained open to further negotiation. There was a breakthrough in the talks in April 2008 when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Pakistan and India.
According to the project proposal, the pipeline will begin from Iran's Assalouyeh Energy Zone in the south and stretch over 1,100 km through Iran. In Pakistan, it will pass through Baluchistan and Sindh but officials now say the route may be changed if China agrees to the project.
The gas will be supplied from the South Pars field. The initial capacity of the pipeline will be 22 billion cubic meter of natural gas per annum, which is expected to be later raised to 55 billion cubic meter. It is expected to cost $7.4 billion.
According to Indian ministry sources, the IPI gas pipeline is quite crucial for New Delhi as after signing of the agreement, 60 million standard cubic meters per day (mmscmd) of gas is expected to be supplied in phase-I, which will be shared equally between India and Pakistan.
In phase-II, 90 mmscmd of gas will be supplied to India and Pakistan. So far six meetings of the trilateral joint working group (JWG) of the participating countries have been held with the last meeting being held in New Delhi on June 28-29, 2007.
India, Asia's third-largest economy, can produce only half the gas it needs to generate electricity, causing blackouts and curbing economic growth. Demand may more than double to 400 million cubic meters a day by 2025 if the economy grows at the projected rate of 7 to 8 percent a year, according to the Indian oil ministry.
Iran plans to start exporting gas to Pakistan in 2011. Iran has completed half the pipeline, which can carry 110 million cubic meters of gas a day, National Iranian Gas Company (NIOC) said in April. India uses about 108 million cubic meters of gas a day, according to a BP Plc report.