Dharmendra Pradhan

Indian oil minister arrives in Iran for enhanced bilateral ties

Tehran, April 9 (Shana) – India’s Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan is in Tehran heading a delegation of major public and private sectors representatives from oil, gas, and energy fields.

Iranian and Indian oil ministers are scheduled to meet on Saturday during which they are going to negotiate cooperation in the development of Farzad-B gas field, crude oil transaction, and investment in the petrochemical industry, Iran’s deputy petroleum minister for international affairs and commerce, Amir-Hossein Zamani-Nia, told Shana.

Pradhan’s visit is the first by an Indian minister following removal of sanctions as India wants more oil imports and shipments of natural gas from Iran.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in a statement said representative of major oil and energy firms are accompanying the Indian minister to Tehran.

The strong private sector presence is being ensured by FICCI under the leadership of Y.K. Modi, Past President FICCI and Executive Chairman, GEECL and private sector players like the Essar Group, Reliance Industries Ltd, L&T, John Energy and Deepak Nitrite, it said.

New Delhi is looking to increase engagement with Iran for the development of Farzad-B gas field in the Persian Gulf that was discovered by India’s ONGC Videsh, the overseas arm of the India’s state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation.

Under pressure from the United States, the OVL-led consortium delayed and ultimately relinquished development of Farzad-B offshore natural gas block. New Delhi also withdrew from the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline project slated to bring 11.3 bcm meters of Iranian natural gas per year to India.

“A proposal on the undersea pipeline to carry natural gas from Iran to India is also under study by an Indian firm,” Zamani-Nia said.
Last December, managing director of the National Iranian Gas Export Company (NIGEC) said Tehran and New Delhi are seriously negotiating construction of a trans Oman Sea-Indian Ocean pipeline to transfer gas to the energy hungry India.

“The 4.5-billion pipeline is set to pump 31.5 mcm of Iran’s gas to India’s western Gurjarat port,” Ali-Reza Kameli said on the sidelines of the Fifth World Energy Policy Summit in New Delhi adding that the talks are underway with the pipeline construction company South Asia Gas Enterprise (SAGE) which has the expertise for laying deepwater gas pipelines.

Zamani-Nia also told Shana that Tehran and New Delhi are in talks over payment of India’s outstanding amounts arising from crude oil transactions and their reimbursement in euros.

The debts have been overdue because of US-led sanctions which barred their transfer to Iran which were lifted in the wake of the nuclear accord with the world powers.

Gas-rich Iran which holds the largest reservoirs of 34 tcm or 18 percent of the global resources has also entered into contracts for export of natural gas to neighboring Turkey, Pakistan, Iraq, and UAE.

Zamani-Nia said that the Indian minister is going to negotiate with Iranian Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh and meet minister of industry, governor of Central Bank of Iran, and FTZs secretary.

“Pradhan will travel to Chabhahr port to visit the petrochemical site under construction by Indian firms for production of fertilizers before winding up his visit to Iran,” he said.

‘His visit is in sync with our energy security imperatives and is extremely important from the perspective of foreseeable growth in India’s economic activity and crude oil & gas import requirements,’ read the FICCI statement.