| TEHRAN, Sept 28
TEHRAN, Sept 28 Pakistan has agreed to details
of a deal for buying gas from Iran, officials from both sides
said on Friday, adding that the proposed tri-nation pipeline
would be viable even if India, the third party, walked out.
India stayed away from this week's talks in Tehran on the
proposed $7 billion pipeline, saying it wanted to agree transit
costs through Pakistan on a bilateral basis first, an Iranian
official said. But he said India had not said it was quitting.
"The economics of the project will improve with Indian
participation but ... the project is economically viable as a
bilateral project also," Mukhtar Ahmed, the energy adviser to
Pakistan's prime minister, told reporters in Tehran.
Hojjatollah Ghanimifard, international affairs director of
the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), said the three sides
had previously planned for gas sales and purchase agreements
(GSPAs) to be negotiated separately by India and Pakistan.
"So far, the information formally we have from the
authorities of India is that they are willing to join us. They
have just their internal problems, including that they need to
finalise the transit fee with our good Pakistani friends,"
Ghanimifard said after talks late on Friday.
Iran's oil minister said on Wednesday his country would
still sign a deal with Pakistan if India decided not to join.
Mukhtar said Pakistan and India had agreed in principle how
to tackle issues like transportation tariffs and transit fees.
"We don't see transit through Pakistan as a problem. We've
had bilateral discussions with India on this subject," he said,
although he said more talks were be needed.
Speaking of Pakistan's talks with Iran, Mukhtar said: "We
have agreed upon everything that we needed to agree on with
regard to the gas sales and purchase agreement and the
inter-governmental framework agreement."
He said the details would be drawn up in final documents to
be examined at bilateral talks in Islamabad on Oct. 15-19.
Mukhtar did not give details for the price of the gas
agreed but said it would be linked to the price of oil. He also
they also agreed on a price review clause -- an issue that had
been pending -- but he did not elaborate.
In July, Ghanimifard said India and Pakistan had accepted
Iran's demand for gas price reviews based on market changes. He
denied reports by some Indian newspapers that the pipeline
talks had failed after Iran demanded a review every three
The pipeline would initially carry 60 million cubic metres
of gas daily to Pakistan and India, half for each country. The
pipeline's capacity would later rise to 150 million cu metres.
Pakistan says it could want 60 million cu metres for itself in
Iran says it has completed 18 percent of the work for the
pipeline to bring gas from its South Pars field up to
Iran-Pakistan border. Pakistan has yet to begin work on a 1,000
km (625 mile) stretch of the pipeline to link Iran with India.
Iran has the world's second-largest gas reserves after
Russia. But sanctions, politics and construction delays have
slowed its gas development, and analysts say Iran is unlikely
to become a major exporter for a decade.