Mon 31 Dec 2007
Filed under: International,News
India’s plan to bring gas through international pipelines was reduced to mere pipe dreams in 2007. This year India lost Burma-India pipeline to China, is on the verge of being thrown out of Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline and no one knows whether Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project is actually feasible.
It is ironical that India lost Burma-India pipeline which the analysts believed would be the first of the three pipelines to materialise. Gail had plan the import of natural gas from Burma through on land pipeline from Burma through north-eastern states of the country. India’s state owned companies ONGC Videsh and Gail hold 30 per cent stake in the two blocks A-1 and A-3. But even after having a stake in these two blocks, India failed to convince Burma to sell gas to it instead of China. Burma invited revised bid for A1 and A3 blocks on December 4, 2006. The bids received were not accepted by Burma, as it felt that they were below expectation. However, in a meeting held in February 2007 between Burma and Chinese company PetroChina, Burma decided that the gas from A1 and A3 blocks would be sold to China through pipeline route. This development was conveyed to the consortium partners (including India) by Burma during a meeting held at Nay Pyi Taw on March 16, 2007. During this meeting, Gail impressed upon Burma that Gail’s pipeline offer was still the most competitive and offered optimum value for them due to proximity of India to these fields. However, Burma struck to its decision to sell the gas to China.
Union petroleum minister Murli Deora had claimed that the deal on the IPI pipeline will be signed by June this year. Before the trilateral meeting, a major break through was achieved in June when India and Pakistan agreed on the transportation fee. Both the neighbouring countries also agreed that Mr Deora will visit Pakistan next month to resolve the other controversial issue of transit fee. It was indicated by Pakistan and India that they will not allow issue of transit fee to upheld the pipeline which was first conceived in 1989. Pakistan’s petroleum secretary Ahmad Waqar also assured Indian side that complete security will be given to that part of the pipeline which will carry gas exclusive for India. Tehran’s special representative H. Ghanimi Fard invited Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf to Tehran to sign the pipeline agreement. The three countries targeted the gas flow through the pipeline by 2011. It was widely believed that the three countries will finally sign a deal on the pipeline this year. However, after June meeting, India mysteriously started staying away from the IPI project talks held about four times in Tehran and Islamabad. This led to allegations that India was keeping away under pressure from US. Angry with the India’s absence representatives from Tehran and Islamabad have repeatedly threatened that they will go ahead with the pipeline even without India.