Iran wants meeting with GAIL and Snamprogetti

Vol 5, PW 11 (18 Jul 01) People & Policy

Iran wants a meeting in Rome with GAIL to discuss its controversial mandate to the Bofors-linked Italian firm Snamprogetti-Saipem for a feasibility study on the proposed sub-sea Iran to India gas pipeline.

Contacted by Petrowatch, a senior GAIL official declines to comment on the invitation, but this report understands from Tehran that S.M Mortazavi, General Manager International Oil & Gas Projects at the National Iranian Oil Company, wrote to GAIL on 28th June requesting the meeting "at your earliest convenience." We also learn that GAIL has responded frostily to Mortazavi's invitation, and is demanding to see a copy of NIOC's agreement with Snamprogetti before making any decision.

[As Petrowatch goes to press, we learn that GAIL has received a copy of the agreement]. Mortazavi justifies NIOC's hasty selection of the Italian firm by citing the "limited window of opportunity during the month of July to September" and favourable weather conditions required to conduct a "Marine Survey" of the proposed pipeline, which, if constructed, will sit in depths of 3,500 metres.

GAIL rejects this and retorts that weather conditions after September would have been much better! Also, Mortazavi claims that GAIL in a meeting on 12th May this year conveyed its "conditional acceptance of Snamprogetti's capabilities in undertaking the project, with some stated reservations." GAIL accuses NIOC of misinterpreting its views.