New Delhi ready to invest $20b in Iran’s Chabahar Port

TEHRAN, April 09 (Shana) –- The visiting Indian minister of petroleum and natural gas says New Delhi is planning to invest some $20 billion for development of energy and petrochemical projects in Iran’s Chabahar Port.

Speaking to reporters following a meeting with Iranian Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh in Tehran, Dharmendra Pradhan said Iran-India relationships in energy sector is no longer limited to oil imports from Iran.

“India is prepared to develop Chabahar Port and I will pay a visit to the region on Sunday,” he said.

“Iran’s cash is being kept at Indian banks and will be freed once new banking channels open up,” the Indian official said.

Pradhan is in Tehran heading a delegation of major private sector representatives from oil, gas, and energy fields. His 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.

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.

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.

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.

Pradhan is scheduled to 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.

‘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 an FICCI statement.