India considering return to Iranian gas - Tehran Times NEW DELHI (UPI) -- India is running an energy deficit and may consider rejoining a natural gas pipeline project from Iran, a senior diplomat said. Iran has started work on its section of a pipeline that would stretch from the South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf to Pakistan. Both sides have expressed interest in the project, though Washington has stated opposition given the potential economic benefits for Iran. India was included in the project but backed away after securing nuclear energy assurances from the United States. A senior Indian diplomat told the International News Network in Pakistan that New Delhi never fully walked away. "It was just gone down on the priority list mainly due to security concerns in Pakistan," the source was quoted as saying. "We are an energy-deficient country and to sustain our high growth rate and ensure energy security, we need energy from every possible source." The United States backs a rival project that would stretch from Turkmenistan to India through Afghanistan and Pakistan. Security concerns in Afghanistan, however, weigh on that project's development. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was expected to discuss the Iranian natural gas pipeline with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari "in the near future." Ever increasing energy needs have compelled India to rejoin the transnational pipeline emanating from Iran and transiting Pakistan thus reviving IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India) Gas Pipeline Project. The well-placed Indian diplomat said that his government was actively contemplating to look back on the option of IPI (which was once known as the Peace Pipeline due to its potential for reducing tensions between Pakistan and India). He said that India had never abandoned the project, officially. "It was just gone down on the priority list mainly due to security concerns in Pakistan," he added. Earlier India had practically abandoned Iran-Pakistan-India Gas Pipeline project for obvious reasons of entering into a nuclear deal with the US. After India disembarked the trilateral mechanism for IPI, the pipeline was naturally left as only Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline. According to the diplomat, the announcement to give effect to the rejuvenation of IPI was expected during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Pakistan in the near future. Premier Singh accepted President Asif Ali Zardari's invitation on Sunday to visit Pakistan on a mutually convenient date. "We are an energy-deficient country and to sustain our high growth rate and ensure energy security, we need energy from every possible source," the diplomat observed. Iran stopped holding talks with India on IPI pipeline around two years ago, and signed a bilateral accord with Pakistan on the project. Under the deal finalized in March last year, Iran will supply 750 million cubic feet of gas daily to Pakistan by 2014. The Indian diplomat however tried to dispel the impression that Washington had been exerting pressure on India not to pursue the IPI pipeline project in view of Iran's peaceful nuclear program. Important issues concerning the IPI project, such as gas pricing, delivery point of gas, project structure, transportation tariff payment, transit fee for the passage of natural gas through Pakistan and security of supply, had still not been sorted out, he added. "Once our concerns are addressed satisfactorily, we will have no hesitation in going ahead with the project," he maintained. The proposed 1600 km project, envisaging supply of gas from Iran to India via Pakistan, has been hanging fire for about a couple of decades now due to Indian aversions to have a pipeline through Pakistan and above all the anti-Iran US pressure. In the aftermath of the April 2003 peace initiative, India agreed to consider the project if Pakistan is willing to look at it in the context of larger economic relations. The Iran-Pakistan Gas pipeline Project was conceived in 1993, which was later proposed to be extended to India. There are three different routes under consideration for the Iran-India gas pipeline via deep sea, shallow water and over-land. Feasibility study for the deep sea route is being conducted by Snam Progetti of Italy, while that of overland route is being conduct by BHP of Australia. BHP has completed phase-I of the study. The feasibility study for the shallow water route is to be conducted by Gazprom of Russia but they have not yet started the study.