The much talked about Iran-Pakistan-India gas
pipeline project has entered into a phase where India, which was
earlier reluctant to become the partner in the project, has now
started negotiating over the gas price with Iran.
Though the cost of the project has been escalated
from $2.5 billion to current estimates $4.6 billion, however, per head
cost may come down if China which has also expressed willingness to
join in was welcomed by the three existing partners.
According to reports, India is willing to pay not
more than $2.5 per million British thermal units (mbtu) for the
Iranian gas to be imported through a 2600-km pipeline via Pakistan.
The task force on Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline
will visit Tehran these days to discuss the terms and conditions of
gas import from Iran through the proposed $4.16 billion pipeline, a
government official said.
Iran wants a price equivalent to that of LNG
(liquefied natural gas). LNG is costlier than the natural gas
transported through pipeline as gas has to be first liquefied, then
shipped in cryogenic tankers and finally re-gasified at the import
India, through a separate contract, will buy 7.5
million tonnes of LNG per annum from 2010, the re-gasified price of
which would be close to $4 per mbtu. This is the price Iran is seeking
for delivering gas through the pipeline.
"The Iranian price is not acceptable to us. We
will pay no more than $2.5 per mbtu," the official said.
International consultant BHP Billiton of Australia had pegged the cost
of Iranian gas through a pipeline at $2.40-2.49 per mbtu. New Delhi
has decided that the landfall point for the pipeline will be Barmer in
Iran is committed to sell 60 million standard cubic
meters of natural gas per day through the pipeline for 25 years from
2010. The contract can be extended by 5 years. The official said Iran
was not willing to sign 'supply-or-pay' contract, which would make it
accountable to deliver the gas at Indian borders or else pay for the
Tehran, however, wants New Delhi to commit to a
stringent 'take-or-pay' clause where India will have to pay the price
even if it does not take the delivery of gas. The official also said
Iran had also turned down India's demand for 'rich' gas (natural gas
rich in petrochemicals).
The Indian team to Tehran will be headed by Talmiz
Ahmad, additional secretary (international cooperation), ministry of
petroleum and natural gas and includes Joint Secretary Ajay Tyagi,
Indian Oil Corp Director (planning and business development) NK Nayyar
and Gail Director (planning) BS Negi.
"Iran will supply gas from phases 9, 10, 15,
16, 17 and 18 of the gigantic South Pars Gas Field," the official
said adding the national Iranian gas export company would hold the
title of the gas till its delivery at a point on the Rajasthan border.
Tehran wants the price of gas to be indexed to
crude oil and petroleum product prices and has asked India to sign a
take or pay contract for 95 percent of the annual contract quantity.
The official said Iran agreed to India's condition of delivering
natural gas through a separate Iran-India pipeline on Rajasthan
borders but was unwilling to take the financial liability of the
non-delivery of gas that might occur due to disruption in Pakistan.
Tehran has also changed the quality of gas to lean gas (gas stripped
of ethane/propane) in place of the rich gas promised earlier," he
GAS INJECTION INTO OILFIELDS TO INCREASE TO 180M
CU. METERS PER DAY
Deputy managing director of the National Iranian
Oil Company (NIOC) said injection of the natural gas into the
oilfields will increase from the current 80 million cubic meters per
day to 180 million cubic meters per day during the Fourth Five-Year
"Personally I do not believe in the notion
supported by many experts that the government should stop the natural
gas exports and that it should better use it inside the country and
inject it into the oil wells because, the gas injected into the
oilfields has increased from 50 million cubic meters per day five year
ago to the current 80 million cubic meters per day. Moreover, the
figure is expected to rise to 180 million cubic meters per day by the
end of the Fourth Five-Year Development Plan", noted Mehdi
The issue of the natural gas exports has been a
controversial matter and conflicting views have been expressed on
whether to inject the gas into the oilfields to boost their output or
through its export, employ it as a source of income for the
MULTIPLYING CELLULAR PHONES IN IRAN
The number of mobile phone SIM cards operating in
Iran has exceeded 5.4 million.
A report by the Mobile Communications Company
stated that 3 million more SIM cards would be added to the mobile
phone network by early 2006.
It quoted another report by the Ministry of
Information and Communication Technology (ICT)'s Public Relations
Office as saying that 64% of the rural areas have access to
It said 43,800 villages are connected to the
national telecommunication network, adding that the number stood at
23,000 at the end of the Second Development Plan in 2000.
Some 28,604 villages were provided with
telecommunication facilities during President Mohammad Khatami's
tenure, which started in May 1997. The annual growth in
telecommunication facilities for rural areas stood at 13.7% in the