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Indian ambassador says Gazprom can ensure safety if joins gas project

India’s ambassador to Russia said Monday that the project to build a natural gas pipeline to link Iran, Pakistan and India could secure extra safety guarantees if energy giant Gazprom became involved.

Gazprom has been in talks with the three countries for over a year on joining the project, designed to pump fuel from energy-rich Iran and which is worth an estimated $7.5 billion. Kanwal Sibal said that although the project had at first raised India’s concerns over safety issues, Gazprom’s abundant experience in the field could ease all concerns. The parties expect the pipeline, which will run 2,300 kilometers (1,430 miles) and pump 21.1 billion cubic meters a year, to come on stream in 2011. However, Sibal said disputes over pricing and transit duties had yet to be settled.

Alexander Medvedev, deputy head of Gazprom’s management committee, said in late June that an intergovernmental agreement on the project must be the most important condition. He said at the time that Gazprom could both become a party to the project and offer its research services under certain conditions. India and Pakistan are planning to equally share deliveries from Iran, and the pipeline’s capacity is eventually to be increased 150%. (rian.ru)