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Gazprom goes to India via Pakistan
Experts doubts economic proficiency of this project Caspian littoral states mass media informed that the ministry of oil of Pakistan has addressed to the government of the state with request to let Gasprom start research works on the project of construction of gas main from Iran to India via Pakistani waters. However, Gazprom comes forward in the project as transporter only, but not gas supplier.

Iran consumes 63 billion cubic meters of gas annually, while it develops about 70 billion cubic meters. However, by the year 2005 it plans to increase gas delivery to 180 billion cubic meters annually, mainly due to huge field of South Pars with reserves at 12 trillion cubic meters of gas. This field is divided into eight phases. The first phase is being explored by Iran independently. The second and third phase are being worked out by TotalFinaElf (40%) from 1997, Gazprom and Petronas (30% each). In 2001 Gazprom invested to this project 14 billion rubles. Pakistan consumes 19 billion cubic meters of gas annually and mostly consumes gas developed in the state. India demands about 25 billion cubic meters annually, it imports 15 billion cubic meters from Iran.

Yet last fall the leadership of Gazprom addressed to the government of Iran and India the project on construction of gas main on the bottom of the sea to Pakistan. Iranian authorities discuss other versions as well and other versions of construction of the pipeline, proposed by the Austrian BHP and Italian Snamprojetti. BHP suggests to lay a 2100 km onshore gas pipe via the territory of Pakistan. It is the cheapest, but the most risky version taking into consideration military confrontation between India and Pakistan. Italian side is preparing project on laying of the pipeline via the neutral waters, however, it makes the project more expensive. Both these projects must be developed by December of 2002.

As for Gazprom it suggests the third version of the route: the gas pipeline will be laid onshore on the territory of Iran and India, while via Pakistan the pipeline will be laid on the littoral states controlled by the IMF. It looks as if the Pakistani authorities do not oppose the project of Gazprom. Local The Nation daily informs referring to top official in the Oil Ministry of Pakistan that the Ministry has already send a petition to the government of the state with request to allow Gazprom to conduct design and research works.

"Our project excludes political risks, connected with the conflict between Pakistan and India," Gazrpom representative says. India may not be fear that Pakistan will use pipeline for solving its political problems. According to Gazprom's official, proposals of rivals bears serious risks. The cost of the project is estimated at USD 3.5 billion.

Although if the pipe is finally laid based on Gasprom's project, the Russian monopoly will become just a gas transporter, but not supplier. Gas, extracted by Gazprom on South Pars is owned by Iran. Expenses for Gazprom are covered by Iran by gas condensate, which the Russian company is to sell independently in Iran and neighboring states. "Gazprom is an international company and can earn money in foreign projects not only as gas suppliers but by transporting it," Gazprom's representative said.

Vedomosti daily

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By Irina Reznik, Ilia Khrennikov, Svetlana Novolod

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