New Delhi, Jan. 25 (PTI): Iran today offered 2.5 million tonnes (MT) of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to India although the fate of Indo-Iranian gas pipeline, passing through Pakistan, remains uncertain due to security consideration. Iranian oil minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, who met petroleum minister Ram Naik here, side-stepped the issue to offer Indian oil PSUs equity in its South Pars gasfield, in exchange for New Delhi buying 2.5 MT per annum of LNG, sources said.
Tehran, which has mandated BHP of Australia to study the possibility of constructing a gas pipeline from South Pars gasfield in Iran to India across Pakistan, made no fresh offer for gas export through the proposed pipeline, sources said.
Apparently taking cognisance of the recent explosions at oil installations in Pakistan, which substantiated India’s concerns about the safe delivery of gas through the onland pipeline route, Zanganeh offered to sell natural gas in the form of LNG, which can be shipped. India would study the offer and the domestic demand scenario particularly in the light of new gas discoveries and five million tonnes of LNG imports from Qatar, before committing to purchase gas from Iran.
Both Iran and Pakistan were keen on the 2,670-km long and 48-inch diameter onland pipeline as it provided the former a cheap route to sell its vast gas reserves and the latter would have earned about $ 580 million transit fee from the $ 3.5-billion gas conduit. Even though Iran had been pressing for an onland pipeline for gas export, New Delhi had favoured an underwater line to avoid disruption in supplies by Pakistan.
While Iran engaged Australian consultant BHP Kinhill to detail the onland gas pipeline passing through Pakistan, it engaged Italy’s Snamprogetti, a construction arm of Eni, for working on a feasibility study for the construction of an offshore gas pipeline from Iran to India.