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India, Oman mull sub-sea pipeline to pump Turkmen and Iranian gas
Monday, September 20, 2010

India and Oman are in talks to build a deepwater gas transportation system to pump gas from Turkmenistan, Iran and Qatar, bypassing troubled regions in Central and South Asia, the Times of Oman said on Monday.

The pipeline, with an estimated cost of $4 billion, is expected to pump 31.1 billion cubic meters of gas per day.

"We are trying to create an energy corridor. It is a grand scheme of several pipelines. It will connect energy producing countries like Iran, Turkmenistan, Qatar, and will pass through the UAE and Oman, all the way to India," SAGE head Subodh Kumar Jain said during his brief visit to Oman's capital Muscat.

South Asia Gas Enterprise Pvt Ltd (SAGE), a joint venture of Oman's Siddhomal group, U.K.-based Deep Water Technology and India, was established to build a 2,000-km deepwater pipeline to connect India and Iran.

The pipeline to bring Iranian gas to India was initially designed to go by land via Pakistan and Afghanistan, but the project was largely abandoned amid continuing instability in the area.

Jain said the transit states, such as the U.A.E. and Oman, will also be able to receive gas supplies via the pipeline.

"Apart from India, it will benefit countries in the Gulf region. It can feed Oman and the UAE. It will also benefit gas producing countries like Turkmenistan, Iran and Qatar. These are countries with huge natural gas reserves," he said. "Oman needs more gas to feed its gas-based industries and power plants."

SAGE is now negotiating gas supplies from Turkmenistan, Iran and Qatar.

"That is the biggest challenge. Besides this, there are a lot of geopolitical and security issues involved," Jain said, expressing hope that all the problems will be resolved next year.

As soon as gas supplies are ensured, the pipeline project will be completed within five years.

India is facing natural gas shortages as its own reserves are expected to run out by 2012. It currently buys around 26 million of standard cubic meters of liquefied natural gas per day.

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