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August 6, 2002 | 1900 IST
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Gazprom to revive Indo-Iran gas pipeline

Russia's natural gas giant Gazprom is reviving a $3.2 billion-submerged gas pipeline project linking an offshore oil field in Iran with the Indian coast, to be built in collaboration with Gas Authority of India Ltd.

Under the Iran-Pakistan-India project, the main pipeline from Iran's South Pars Gas Field will be laid across the territorial waters of Pakistan.

The South Pars Gas Field has an estimated deposit of 13 trillion cubic metres, capable of meeting the energy requirements of India's northern states for the next 50 years.

Chief of Gazprom's International Department Stanislav Tsigankov was quoted as saying by the Kommersant daily in Moscow that the company was reviving the project and had sent a delegation to Islamabad in May.

Gazprom has sought Islamabad's permission to begin exploratory work in its coastal waters. The pipeline is to be laid at a depth of 2,000 meters thereby saving it from threats of tampering or terror strikes, it said.

The daily quoted senior GAIL official Rajeev Khanna as saying that his company is considering the project offered by Gazprom. Gazprom and GAIL had signed a memorandum of understanding on constructing IPI gas pipeline in September 1995.

However, it did not make headway due to political problems compounded by the US sanctions against Iran till 1998 which limited investments in the project.

"Today this project remains frozen due to the India-Pakistan stand-off," Kommersant noted. However, now at the request of Gazprom, Pakistan's natural resources ministry has approached the military government to permit the Russian firm to begin exploration for building IPI pipeline, it said.

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