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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

India, Iran move to expand energy ties

TEHRAN – Indian oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan will visit Iran in the coming days for important talks, including on purchase of more oil, development of a giant gas field and investment petrochemical projects.

India is currently Iran’s second biggest oil client after China.

Iranian Deputy Petroleum Minister Amir Hussein Zamaninia, said on Tuesday that the Farzad-B gas field and purchase of oil from Iran and investment in petrochemicals will be the topics of discussions.

Last month, the Indian oil minister said he was hopeful a deal on Farzad-B could be concluded during his upcoming visit to Tehran on April 9-10.

India is pushing to win back development rights to the field which it discovered in 2008.
Iran had to put Farzad-B in the list of projects up for tender after the Indians dragged their feet of its development due to pressure by the United States.

India began pressing for the development rights to be reinstated after a nuclear deal with Tehran created concerns in New Delhi that international firms would rush to grab a stake in the project.

An Indian consortium led by ONGC Videsh submitted a $3 billion field development plan to Iranian authorities to develop Farzad-B.

Another subject of extensive argument between the two sides is India’s repayment of its oil dues to Iran.

An Iranian official said the Central Bank of Iran is currently currying out negotiations with the Indians in this regard.

In his visit, Pradhan is planning to meet the bank’s Governor, Waliollah Saif, to discuss the issue.

Saif has said the Indians were interested in clearing the outstanding debt of $6 billion in Rupees while Iran wanted it to be repaid in Euros.

Pradhan is also due to meet Iranian Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade, Mohammed Retha Nematzadeh, and secretary of the council of Iran’s free trade — Industrial and special economic zones — Akbar Torkan.

The Indian minister has also said he would discuss his country’s interest in developing Chabahar port in Tehran and building industrial complexes there.

Iranian Deputy Petroleum Minister Amir Hussein Zamaninia added that an Indian firm is also in talks for building an undersea pipeline to transfer Iranian gas to India. This project would reach India through the Sultanate of Oman.

It is well known that Chabahar port, in which India is showing interest in carrying out development projects, is located in Oman Sea, north of the Sultanate.

Observers believe that the cooperation and coordination between India and Iran would have direct positive effect upon the Sultanate and Iran ties.

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