Iran, Pakistan, Russia to talk Gazprom's entry to IPI

December 7, 2009

TEHRAN - Iran, Pakistan and Russia are scheduled to meet in January to discuss Russian Gazprom's cooperation in the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline project, a senior official with the National Iranian Oil Company said on Friday.

NIOC director for investment affairs, Hojjatollah Ghanimifard, Gazprom's representative to Tehran, Abubakir Shamuzov, and Pakistan's Deputy Minister of Oil and Natural Resources, Ershad Ahmad Kalim, met in Tehran to elaborate on the method of Gazprom's participation in the project.
Shamuzov said in the meeting that the IPI, nicknamed Peace Pipeline, project would greatly contribute to the economic development of the region. ""As a major gas producer and supplier, Gazprom pays special attention to the development projects which are being implemented in the southern Asia,"" he added.
Gazprom's entry into the project had been discussed during a meeting between Russian energy minister Sergei Shmatko, and Iranian oil minister Masoud Mirkazemi last week in Tehran, Shana news agency reported.
According to plans the Russian firm will provide a complete set of information about the project. The next meeting is scheduled for the second half of January in Iran. Ghanimifard expressed hopes that India would also take part in the meeting.
The ""Peace Pipeline"" route is designed to transport Iranian gas to Pakistan and India, though the signature of a final deal agreement has been delayed several times over price and political issues.
Iran, Pakistan, and India conceptualized the Peace Pipeline project in 1990s, to help boost peace and security in the region.
Negotiations over the project were initiated in 1994 between the three countries but there were obstacles to closing the three-way deal due to tension between India and Pakistan.
Due to the tense India-Pakistan relations, New Delhi stepped back from the later stages of negotiations, although it has never formally withdrawn from the project.
During the talks, the Indian officials had asked Iran to sort out a number of issues, such as the security of the pipeline and the gas price formula.
India didn’t participate in the last several rounds of talks, but Iran repeatedly encouraged India to rejoin the process.
The IPI gas pipeline is a proposed 2,775-kilometer pipeline to deliver natural gas from Iran to Pakistan and India.
The project is expected to greatly benefit India and Pakistan, which do not have sufficient natural gas to meet their rapidly increasing domestic demand