Indian Oil Imports to Reach Pre-Sanctions Levels

Indian Oil Imports to Reach Pre-Sanctions LevelsIndian Oil Imports to Reach Pre-Sanctions Levels

India has expressed readiness to boost oil imports from Iran to reach the pre-sanctions levels, an official in Iran's Oil Ministry said.

"India had been receiving 16% of its total oil imports from Iran before the sanctions were imposed," Marzieh Riahi told IRNA, adding that the volume has dropped to less than 6% due to financial and trade embargos.

Riahi heads an energy committee, which is part of a bigger economic delegation visiting India.

Economy Minister Ali Tayyebnia is the senior Iranian official leading the delegation.

During bilateral meetings between the Iranian energy committee and Indian officials, issues such as the Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline and another plan on supplying gas to India via an underwater pipeline were discussed.

Iran and Pakistan started the $7.5 billion gas pipeline project, also known as the Peace Pipeline, in March 2013, but the plan hit quicksand due to sanctions and trade restrictions against Tehran, while cash-strapped Islamabad has struggled to raise the money to lay the pipeline on its side.

"Technical and engineering collaboration in a wide range of grounds, including development of oilfields, construction of local and international gas pipelines and building refineries, were other topics of the talks," Riahi added.

Asked about India's investment in Farzad-B gas field, the official expressed optimism that with the lifting of the sanctions, India can start working in the field.

"As Farzad-B is a joint gas field, there is no room for further hesitation. Therefore, investment is urgent," Riahi added.

Although Iran and India have held intense negotiations on handing over the Farzad-B gas field's development phases, the Persian Gulf country has warned that if talks go nowhere, the project will be put out to an international tender.

Earlier this year, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh described Farzad-B as the only Iranian project "promised" to a foreign contractor.

The Wall Street Journal reported in September that ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas arm of India's state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp., had submitted a $10 billion proposal to Iran for developing Farzad-B and shipping its gas to India.

A consortium of OVL, Oil India and Indian Oil Corp. had discovered an estimated 363 million cubic meters of gas reserves, which was later named Farzad-B, in the Farsi block in 2008. But the Indians were forced to abandon the project after the United States and the European Union imposed tough sanctions on the Persian Gulf country.