India, Iran, Oman talk trilateral energy cooperation

NEW DELHI (The Statesman/ANN) - India, Iran and Oman are exploring ways for closer  trilateral cooperation in the energy sector.

India, Iran and Oman are exploring avenues for closer trilateral cooperation in the energy sector, including the possibility of setting up a deep water gas pipeline starting from Iran, crossing the Sea of Oman and ending in India.

The broad contours of this cooperation were discussed at a meeting external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had with Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif and Oman foreign minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah in New York on the margins of the UN General Assembly on Saturday.

 According to sources, Swaraj discussed a range of issues with her counterparts from Iran and Oman, particularly trilateral economic cooperation. It was felt that the three countries could meet the energy needs of each other by enhancing imports and exports.

“The meeting exchanged views on the ways of utilising and benefiting from Iran’s gas and the cooperation mechanisms to overcome the crossing of gas and oil pipeline through the deep waters in the Sea of Oman and the Indian Ocean,’’ the sources added.

The meeting assumes significance as it came days after US President Donald Trump indicated that he could discard the nuclear deal between Iran and western powers, triggering fears that he might impose fresh sanctions against the Islamic nation. India, it appears, would continue to pursue and protect its economic interests in West Asia while keeping a close eye on the US policy vis a vis Tehran. 

Iran has surplus gas and is keen to sell it to India, which imports nearly 75 per cent of its crude requirement. Generating solar energy and other forms of renewables and promoting their use is being given a great deal of importance in India. The objective is to gradually replace fossil fuel with renewable energy. India would like to see non fossil fuel-based energy constituting 40 per cent if its energy basket.  

The proposal for the deep water pipeline envisages transporting Iranian oil and natural gas via Oman in such a manner that even Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan can feed the pipeline for an ever-growing Indian energy market.

The proposal appears to have drawn a positive response from all the three countries, given the fact that the Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India (TAPI) gas pipeline project has not made much headway in view of concerns over its safety since the pipeline would pass through restive regions in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.   Feasibility studies conducted by Indian agencies suggest that the Iran, Oman, India gas pipeline would cost around $5 billion and could be completed as quickly as in 3-4 years.

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