Access to Iran gas critical for energy security: Aiyar

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Our Bureau

Hyderabad, Jan. 22

ACCESS to Iran gas is very critical for achieving the energy security of the country, according to Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar.

Talking to reporters here at the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), here recently, Mr Aiyar said that if the tap (of the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline) was turned off, then there was no hope whatsoever on achieving country's energy security needed for achieving a sustained GDP growth rate of 7-8 per cent in the next 20 years to eradicate poverty. And hence, the access to Iran gas was very critical.

Referring to the US opposition to the pipeline in the backdrop of nuclear issue row with Iran, he hoped that the US would be sensitive to India's energy security.

Mr Aiyar also stressed the importance of India joining a pan-Asian and CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) gas network. The Minister was going to Ashkabad, the capital of Turkmenistan, to attend the meeting of TPA (Turkmenistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan) pipeline. If India joined, it would become TAPI. The Minister said that it could be strengthened by joining several other countries.

On the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline, he said the work related to the pipeline was progressing well. The stage had been set for tripartite talks after successfully completing negotiations with Pakistan and Iran independently. His counterparts from both the countries would visit India soon to continue negotiations.

The Cabinet, which earlier gave the nod for holding bilateral discussions on the issue, would take a decision in February on initiating the tripartite talks.

The Petroleum Minister said that technical and financial consultants had been appointed and legal consultants would also be appointed with regard to purchasing power at the border. He discounted fears that international firms won't take part in the project due to the ILSA (Iran-Libya Sanction Act), as the three consultants were global firms. The US Act barred its companies from investing in the Iran oil and gas industries.

Earlier, the NGRI and Directorate General of Hydrocarbons signed a memorandum of understanding for carrying out four projects in the presence of the Union Minister.

Addressing a gathering later, he asked the scientists to work for finding energy resources that would meet the future requirements. Referring to the successes of Mexican scientists, Mr Aiyar asked the NGRI scientists to open the lock to break the Deccan traps.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 23, 2006)
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