India, Pakistan and Iran will for the first time hold a joint official-level meeting in Tehran from March 13-15 on the proposed over $7 billion tri-nation gas pipeline, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora has said.
"The Indian delegation, led by petroleum secretary (M S Srinivasan) will be attending this meeting," he said, addressing the Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to his ministry in New Delhi.
A tripartite meeting of the technical teams from the three countries was held in New Delhi in January to discuss various technical parameters of the project.
"The issues under discussion include gas pricing, project structure and the tripartite government-to-government framework agreement," he said.
As the domestic availability of gas was not adequate to meet the country's demand, India has been pursuing import of gas, both as liquefied natural gas and through transnational pipelines.
"One of the pipeline projects under consideration is the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline project which envisages a line of about 20,000-km length from Assaluyeh in Iran to the Indo-Pak border," he said.
To finalise the details of this project, two separate secretary-level bilateral joint working groups have been set up by India with Pakistan and Iran. In the meetings held so far, various technical, commercial, financial, legal and other project-related issues have been discussed.
On the possibility of importing gas from Turkmenistan through a pipeline passing through Afghanistan and Paksitan, Deora said the steering committee of the project has invited India to become an official member of the project.
"We are examining the matter for taking a view on joining the project," he said.
To explore the possibility of import of gas from Turkmenistan, an Indian delegation led by Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dinsha Patel participated in the 9th Steering Committee meeting of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan gas pipeline project held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, on February 14-15, as an observer.
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