Iran Keen to Revive IP Pipeline Project

Iran Keen to Revive  IP Pipeline ProjectIran Keen to Revive  IP Pipeline Project

Tehran is ready to make a fresh push to develop the stalled Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline if other parties show interest, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said in a statement.

"We have always been interested in the (pipeline) project, but they (Indians) pulled out," said Iran's senior oil official, ISNA reported.

Zanganeh is expected to discuss the issue with his Indian counterpart Dharmendra Pradhan who is scheduled to arrive in Tehran on April 9 for two days of extensive talks with Iranian officials.

This is Pradhan's first visit to the Iranian heartland after nuclear-related sanctions against Iran were revoked on January 16.

The idea of a pipeline stretching from Iran's gas-rich southern regions to Pakistan all the way to India goes back to the 1950s. But the first real step to materialize the project was taken when the three sides signed a preliminary agreement in 1999.

Since then, the project has hit multiple financial and political hurdles. In 2009, India withdrew from the project over pricing and security issues, and after signing a civilian nuclear deal with the United States in 2008.

The pipeline's construction was announced to commence in 2012 to be completed in two years. But it went downhill after the US and the EU introduced tougher sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.

Pakistan has been equally sluggish in finishing the pipeline in its territory. The country has blamed financial woes and international restrictions in doing business with Iran for the delay in laying the pipeline on its side.

And despite promising statements by Pakistani officials in recent months, the country has yet to take effective measures to make gas import from Iran a reality.

  Subsea Pipeline

Tehran and New Delhi have discussed establishing a subsea pipeline that would link the two countries through the Sea of Oman and the Arabian Sea, bypassing India's western neighbor Pakistan along the way.

Also known as "Middle East to India Deepwater Pipeline", the 1,400-kilometer pipeline is projected to cost $5 billion. The new pipeline would supply around 31 million cubic meters of gas per day to India, roughly doubling the country’s gas imports and bringing much-needed energy to the country.

But a $7.6 billion project to deliver Tajikistan's gas to India casts doubt over the Iran-India pipeline project. Turkmenistan in December 2015 said it began constructing the much-touted Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline.

The 1,814-kilometer pipeline, due for completion in three years, poses a direct competition to the IP pipeline. India has shown little enthusiasm in completing the IP pipeline.

Moreover, there is a long way from idea to implementation, and it is especially true for Iran-India subsea pipeline that faces numerous financial and operational complications. But Pradhan's visit to Tehran can give renewed hope and impetus to Iran's ambitions in the international gas industry.