India considering return to Iranian gas

April 9, 2012 at 8:10 AM

NEW DELHI, April 9 (UPI) -- India is running an energy deficit and may consider rejoining a natural gas pipeline project from Iran, a senior diplomat said.

Iran has started work on its section of a pipeline that would stretch from the South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf to Pakistan. Both sides have expressed interest in the project, though Washington has stated opposition given the potential economic benefits for Iran.

India was included in the project but backed away after securing nuclear energy assurances from the United States. A senior Indian diplomat told the International News Network in Pakistan that New Delhi never fully walked away.

"It was just gone down on the priority list mainly due to security concerns in Pakistan," the source was quoted as saying. "We are an energy-deficient country and to sustain our high growth rate and ensure energy security, we need energy from every possible source."

The United States backs a rival project that would stretch from Turkmenistan to India through Afghanistan and Pakistan. Security concerns in Afghanistan, however, weigh on that project's development.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was expected to discuss the Iranian natural gas pipeline with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari "in the near future."

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