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New Delhi eyes IPI, TAPI pipelines

  |   March 9, 2010 at 8:46 AM
NEW DELHI, March 9 (UPI) -- New Delhi is examining pipeline projects from Iran and Turkmenistan to enhance energy security, the petroleum minister said Tuesday.

Indian Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora said in response to questions in Parliament that the import of natural gas from Iran through the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India project was being pursued.

Tehran pressed hard for IPI for decades. Islamabad in 2009 signed a deal with Tehran to secure natural gas from South Pars as part of a 25-year deal.

India was included in the original plans, though a Washington nuclear energy deal and expanding regional energy ties has kept New Delhi at bay.

Deora warned in a statement Tuesday that multilateral projects such as IPI "involve protracted discussions" in order to allay any concerns.

"Implementation of the project will start only after satisfactory resolution of the issues under discussion among the countries participating in the project," the government of India said in a statement.

The minister added, however, that his country was interested in pursuing natural gas through the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline.

The 1,044-mile TAPI pipeline is seen as a rival to the IPI pipeline from the South Pars gas field in Iran. Security of the TAPI route through Afghanistan is an impediment, though in 2008 the Afghan government made several pledges to relieve those concerns.

TAPI is favored by Western powers over the South Pars option because of diplomatic concerns with dealing with Iran.

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