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Iran pipeline may be extended to China: Aiyar

By Ammar Zaidi in Tehran
June 12, 2005 17:31 IST
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Iran has agreed to explore possibilities of extending the 2600-km Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline to China, Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, who headed the Indian delegation at the ministerial level talks with Iran on natural gas imports, said.

During his discussions with Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, Aiyar also asked for extension of the quantity of the liquefied natural gas Iran will export to India from 2009-10 to 7.5 million tons from the 5 million tones already agreed.

Iran has refused to give concession on price for an additional 2.5 million tonnes of the LNG New Delhi wants to buy over and above the 5 million tonnes per annum of LNG already agreed.

On the contrary, the Iranian side has proposed a hike in price.

India also wants the LNG composition to be similar to Qatar's as far as possible.

Since Qatar's LNG contains nearly 9.5% C2/C3/C4 components, Iran should at least commit 5% C2 as they are likely to extract most of the C3 and C4.

"You will know the outcome of all these discussions when we conclude the three-day ministerial talks on Monday," Aiyar said, but clearly indicated that a Sale Purchase Agreement for 5 million tones of LNG will be signed and additional quantities if agreed may be included.

He said he also briefed the Iranian side about the discussions he held in Pakistan just before his visit to Tehran on the pipeline issue.

India and Pakistan had last week formed a joint committee to work out modalities and thrash out technical, financial and legal issues for launching the 4.16-billion dollar project early in 2006.

Aiyar also prioritised Indian firms picking up stake in Iranian oil field development in lieu of buying LNG.

Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Videsh Ltd, the overseas arm of ONGC, was to get 20% interest equivalent to 60,000 barrels per day, in Yadavaran field and 100% rights in the Jufeyr field for purchase of an additional 2.5 million tonnes.

"While we have progressed well on the LNG deal, Iran is yet to assign the equity in Yadavaran or Jufeyr fields," he said.

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Ammar Zaidi in Tehran
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