India is keen to build a 15,000-km gas grid across Asia to connect producers such as Iran, Myanmar, Bangladesh and central Asian nations with big consumers including itself, China and Pakistan, government officials said.
The proposal, which revives prospects of India importing gas from Iran and seeks to extend the proposed pipeline from Turkmenistan, already has the backing of oil minister Veerappa Moily. It was scheduled to be discussed at the SAARC Energy Ministers Meet that was expected early December but was postponed as some ministers were not available, officials said.
Moily has argued that the proposed Green Energy Highway would improve the competitiveness of gas consumers as they will be able to cut energy costs. “This would also be beneficial for the gas suppliers as they would get access to such a large and growing market,” he said in a note reviewed by ET.
The proposed grid could be an extension of the $7.6-billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline, which has made significant progress as most of the crucial inter-governmental agreements have been signed, officials said.
State-run gas utility Gail India is already in discussion with Pakistan to supply imported gas across the border through a 110-km pipeline from Jalandhar.
The matter is being discussed with the government of Pakistan because Gail wants sovereign guarantees for the supply, officials added.”Pakistan is interested in taking about 1.5 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas. We will supply it from our terminal in Gujarat. We have existing pipelines up to Punjab and the last-mile connectivity can be provided by laying new pipeline,” a company executive said.
India is also interested in tapping gas-rich eastern neighbours such as Bangladesh and Myanmar for natural gas supply. It plans to revive a 16-year-old proposal for a 900-km pipeline covering Myanmar, Bangladesh and India, after renewed interest in the project by the two neighbours, officials said.
“The external affairs minister also had a very positive meeting with Myanmar in June about laying the pipeline project that will accelerate economic development of the Northeast,” an official said.
Bangladesh, which initially resisted the transnational pipeline project for political reasons, informally expressed its interest in joining the 1,735-km TAPI pipeline. “The project is in an advanced stage of development as the three gas buyers have signed gas sale-purchase agreements with Turkmenistan separately and they have finalised all other commercial terms last month,” a senior oil ministry official said.
Government and industry officials say the TAPI project could be extended to rope in several other gas producers and consumers in the region.