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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gazprom Approves Pipe Study

Gazprom said Tuesday it had agreed with Pakistan to study whether or not a controversial and costly gas link from Iran to India could cross Pakistan's offshore zone.

The offshore plan is the latest in a series of ideas on how to supply natural gas from energy-rich Iran to energy-starved India by bypassing or crossing Pakistan, India's long-time rival.

Gazprom is part of a TotalFinalElf-led group to develop phases two and three of Iran's South Pars gas field, due to be the main source of gas deliveries to India.

"Gazprom's delegation signed a memorandum of understanding with the Pakistani Energy Ministry, which sees the pipeline crossing its shelf," a spokesman for Gazprom said.

He declined to comment further, saying the pipeline's exact route and cost would become clear only after a feasibility study of the project was completed.

Pakistan and Iran agreed last February on a pre-feasibility study for a $4 billion overland pipeline that will carry gas from Iran to India, though Iran Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said an offshore link could also be an option.

India is worried about the security of supplies if the gas link passes through Pakistan, as the two nations have almost gone to war in the last years over the disputed region of Kashmir.

Reserves at South Pars field are estimated at between 8 trillion and 13 trillion cubic meters of gas.

Italy's ENI operates phases four and five of the South Pars field, while Norway's Statoil operates an offshore portion of phases six through eight.

Italy's Saipem this year signed a contract with Iran for feasibility studies on a 2,000-kilometer deep-sea pipeline, while Australian resources giant BHP is conducting a study for a 2,500-kilometer overland link.

Gazprom's spokesman said the firm planned more agreements soon with Iran and India on its offshore plan.