India to push for $7b Iran gas pipeline project
India is committed to a multibillion-dollar pipeline that will transport gas from energy-rich Iran through Pakistan despite reported objections from the United States, Oil Minister Murli Deora said Saturday.
"I don't see any problem (on the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline)," Deora was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India news agency.
"No country can debar India from this project. We are committed to this," Deora said during a visit to Mumbai.
His comments follow reports that U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, during a visit here this week, had urged India to drop plans to construct the pipeline.
Deora did not give any timeframe for completion of the pipeline though last month he said an agreement on the pipeline could be signed by June.
"I can't give any timeframe. The advisors have been appointed and they are preparing the feasibility report. It is too early to say at this stage," Deora said.
Talks on the proposed $7.4-billion project began in 1994, but stalled due to tensions between rivals Pakistan and India.
The discussions only gathered momentum after the launch of a peace process between the South Asian rivals in 2004.
Despite being U.S. allies in its global "war on terror," India and Pakistan have said they want to go ahead with the 2,600-kilometer (1,600-mile) Iranian pipeline project as they need energy to fuel economic growth.
Iran plans to lay a pipeline from the giant South Pars gas field to carry 90 million standard cubic meters per day of gas.
One-third will be used by Iran while Pakistan and India will get another third each.