Jaswant Singh flies to Iran to cement ties

Vol 4, PW 8 (24 May 00) People & Policy

One source close to the South Pars project is happy at the new development.

"My experience indicates that Reliance is one of the few companies in India that can get a project like this completed in a timely fashion," he said, "They've got the political clout to ensure that it gets through the bureaucracy and the approval process pretty efficiently." India, meanwhile, is putting its full diplomatic weight behind cooperation with Iran. On 19th May, foreign minister Jaswant Singh began a five-day visit to Teheran to attend the 11th session of the Indo-Iranian Joint Commission.

His meeting with Iranian foreign minister Kamal Kharazi was their fifth meeting in12 months. In Teheran officials accompanying Singh indicate the mood is upbeat, with both sides keen to exploit common objectives in energy cooperation and regional security with regard to Afghanistan, home of Saudi-born terrorist Osama bin Laden and Pakistani-backed terror groups in Kashmir.

No details have emerged from the meetings but it seems likely that Singh will have impressed on his Iranian guests deep Indian hostility to any idea of an overland gas pipeline running through Pakistan. The second option of a seabed gas pipeline outside Pakistani territorial waters will no doubt be considered too expensive, leaving the LNG option at South Pars as the most viable way forward.

No firm figure has yet emerged of the size of the South Pars LNG complex but consortium sources tell Petrowatch it will be between six to 7.5m tonnes a year. Reliance, it appears, has expressed an interest in the upstream side of the project to supply gas into the LNG manufacturing facility as well as marketing of the gas in India.