India, Iran step up cooperation in energy sector

Monday, 26 May 2003, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: India and Iran have stepped up cooperation in the energy sector, with New Delhi planning to import five million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and take a stake in Iranian oil and gas fields.

The two sides plan to firm up the LNG import and cooperation in oil exploration within six months and sign a Gas Sale and Purchase Agreement within nine months, said a statement issued by the petroleum ministry here Sunday.

Projects will be completed within four years of the signing of the agreement, the statement said.

Petroleum Minister Ram Naik has formed a high-level steering committee to review progress in cooperation in the hydrocarbon sector, particularly LNG imports and obtaining interests in discovered as well as semi-discovered oil and gas fields for India's state-owned companies like ONGC Videsh Limited.

The committee, headed by the petroleum secretary, will include representatives from the department of economic affairs and the external affairs ministry and the chiefs of state-owned oil and gas companies. It will meet every month.

The Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) will also provide consultancy services for the development of a compressed natural gas (CNG) network in Tehran. Iran is expected to benefit from GAIL's experience in developing the world's largest CNG-dispensing system in New Delhi.

The Indian capital has about 70,000 vehicles, including 10,000 buses, running on CNG, compared to about 2,000 buses powered by the green fuel in other cities across the world.

The two sides will also work to identify specific projects in the Iranian petrochemical sector suitable for Indian participation and in upgrading Iran's refineries, the statement said.

The first meeting of the Indo-Iran joint working group on the hydrocarbon sector was held in Tehran May 11-13 following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two sides in January.

Source: IANS
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