With Iran nuclear deal, an undersea gas pipeline to India holds promise

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The Iran nuclear deal could see not just more imports of Iranian crude to India, the lifting of Western sanctions now holds the promise of kick-starting an undersea pipeline project that would bring Iranian gas to India via the Arabian Sea, bypassing Pakistan.

“The Iran nuclear deal is going to open up more possibilities of importing crude from Tehran, the quantities can be increased. It will also help to implement two-three projects we are working on without any shadow of sanctions,” an official source said.

“Among the major projects we are eyeing is the SAGE undersea pipeline to bring gas from Oman and Iran to India,” the official said, declining to be named.

The gas pipeline project by South Asia Gas Enterprises Pvt Ltd (SAGE), when implemented, could see over 31 million cubic meters of gas per day delivered to India.

The pipeline project, also known as Middle East to India Deepwater Pipeline (MEIDP), was formulated a decade ago, but could not take off due to the Western sanctions and US opposition as well as technological issues. “All that has now been sorted out,” the official added.

With the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline still stuck and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipelines yet to take off, the SAGE project holds promise of seeing gas delivered to energy-starved India in about five years.

The 1,200-1,300 km pipeline, set to cost around $4.5 billion, is the best energy option for India, says Subodh Kumar Jain, director, SAGE. “We are very excited, the development (Iran nuclear deal) holds a lot of promise for getting the SAGE pipeline project moving forward,” Jain said.

Jain said the pipeline would avoid Pakistan`s underwater continental shelf and is “very much doable”.

“India has been struggling to get pipeline projects off the ground for the past 20 years, while China has several pipeline projects running. Now things will certainly change, we`re getting good encouragement from the government,” said Jain.