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India in talks with Iran and US on the gas pipeline project: Moily

New Delhi , Sun, 24 Mar 2013 ANI

New Delhi, Mar 24 (ANI): Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas M. Veerappa Moily on Sunday said that the Indian Government is in talks with Iran and the United States to discuss sanctions regarding the much-delayed gas pipeline project, which would also pass through Pakistan.

Moily said the pipeline project was beneficial for India and that is why they were conducting discussions with the Iranian and U.S. Governments.

He further said, "We are engaged in this kind of talks with Iran and also with the US. This project is beneficial to our country, no doubt. That's why we are working on that, there are other sensitive and other issues with regard to the sanctions, which we will have to address," said Moily.

Dubbed the "peace pipeline", the seven billion dollar project has faced repeated delays since it was conceived in the 1990s to connect Iran's giant South Pars Gas Field to India via Pakistan.

The United States has persistently opposed Pakistan and Indian involvement, saying the project could violate sanctions imposed on Iran over nuclear activities that Washington says are aimed at developing a weapons capability. Iran denies this.

India quit the project in 2009, citing costs and security issues, a year after it signed a nuclear deal with Washington.

Moily also said that the cabinet would take up the shale gas exploration policy in a fortnight.

In the United States, the discovery of abundant shale gas reserves has caused a plunge in gas prices and put the nation on the path towards energy independence.

However, environmental concerns regarding fracking, the technology which involves injecting water and chemicals to break rock formations and extract shale gas, and its potential to trigger earthquakes has led to growing public opposition.

"Our policy is not exactly the replica of the policy of the US, it is something different and we have taken all these things into consideration, while formulating the policy, but at the same time it is doable and we are trying to organise these things, with regard to the issues of land and water, as they are the major concern. We will be addressing that," Moily added.

The development of shale gas extraction could change world energy markets, offering potentially ample supplies that would otherwise tighten in coming years.

In the United States, where hydraulic fracturing or fracking drilling technology is most widely used, it could turn the country from a net importer of natural gas to a net exporter.

But shale gas extraction requires large amounts of water and chemicals, injected in the fragmenting process, and environmental concerns have led some governments to ban its use or put development programmes in place.

Although India is not currently planning large investments, it has received interest from some companies. (ANI)

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