Differences with Pakistan on pipeline will be resolved: Deora


New Delhi : India was optimistic that it would be able to resolve the technical and price differences with Pakistan to get the trans-national Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline on track soon, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said here Monday.

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Inaugurating the fifth Asia Gas Partnership Summit, Deora said he would be travelling to Pakistan next week to discuss the IPI pipeline.

“We have two-three small differences on transit fees. But I am very optimistic that we can sort out the problems,” Deora told reporters after the inaugural session of the summit.

He said he was set to meet the energy minister of the new Pakistan government on April 23.

“I had been getting invitations from the minister on when I would go to Islamabad, but I could not go there while elections were there or after the tragic events (Benazir Bhutto’s assassination),” he added.

Before the minister’s visit, a technical team will be leaving Tuesday to hold talks April 16-18.

According to officials, India had asked that transit fees be pegged at five percent of the price of delivered gas, while Pakistan has been arguing for double that figure.

Similarly, the transportation tariff demanded by Pakistan is $1.57 per million British thermal unit of gas supply, while India is looking for a much lower figure of about $0.69 to $0.70.

Originally, Iran was supposed to supply 150 million cubic metres (mcm) of gas per day through the pipeline, with India getting 90 mcm and Pakistan 60. Now, Iran has revised the supply in the first phase to 60 mcm, which would be shared equally between the two South Asian neighbours.

Deora said he would also be discussing the TAPI (Turkmenistan Afghanistan Pakistan India) pipeline in Islamabad, which is still at a rather preliminary stage. But it has the powerful backing of the US, which been vocal about its criticism of the $5.4 billion IPI pipeline.

It had several false starts last year, with the last meeting in Islamabad postponed by the bout of violence and political instability in that country.

India currently meets only 55-60 percent of its demand for natural gas. But, according to U.B. Choubey of Gas Authority of India Limited, new sources of gas from eastern offshore basins should help improve the supply-demand balance.

Government officials also said they expected India to be self-sufficient in gas by the end of the Eleventh Five Year Plan in 2012.