CAG seeks reply on transnational gas lines

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has sought the Oil Ministry’s comments on inadequate progress made in transnational gas pipeline projects, including the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline.

Stating that in the absence of sufficient development of domestic resources, import was the only option. The CAG said gas import from Iran, Turkmenistan and Myanmar through transnational pipelines was under consideration since 1989.

The CAG on September 5 wrote to the ministry saying that there was uncertainty in import of gas through pipelines due to geo-political, technological and security reasons from the beginning.

The IPI, it said, was conceptualised in early 1989 as the Iran-Pakistan pipeline worth $ 2 billion. India joined the project in 2005 and two years later agreed to pay $ 4.93 per million British thermal unit for buying gas from Iran.

The pipeline, which was expected to carry 8.7 billion cubic meters of gas, was targeted for completion in 2013, the CAG said. India withdrew from the project in 2009 citing security concerns and price of gas as reasons, the CAG added.

Iran, Pak go ahead

However, Iran and Pakistan have gone ahead with the project and construction of the Pakistan section was inaugurated in March this year and is expected to be completed in 22 months.

The CAG said the 1,680 km Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan- India (TAPI) pipeline will cost $ 7.6 billion and will carry 38 million standard cubic meters per day of gas for India and Pakistan each from 2018.

“The TAPI project has been in discussion for almost 23 years posing a significant potential for the energy security of the country but still issues relating to price, security and gas certification remain unresolved,” it said.

The Myanmar-Bangladesh-India pipeline was mooted in 1997. The 900-km line will source gas from Myanmar and Bangladesh. New Delhi reached an agreement with Dhaka and Burma in 2005.

Bangladesh withdrew from the project after India refused to accept its three additional conditions, the CAG said, adding that the line from Myanmar was re-routed through Mizoram, Tripura and Assam into Kolkata.

While there were security related issues, Myanmar in 2008 concluded a gas sale deal with China.

“Transnational pipelines are difficult and complex ventures since they involve different countries with different economic and political interests. Besides, they pass through difficult terrain, as also politically and environmentally sensitive areas, and hence, require mobilisation of huge financial and technological resources,” the CAG observed.

The CAG, which is doing a Performance Audit of Supply and Pricing of Natural Gas, asked the ministry to furnish its comments on the issue at the earliest.

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