India ready to bet $20 bn on Chabahar, sign energy pacts

Pradha Iran visit

Imparting a fresh momentum to its ties with Iran, India has signalled its willingness to invest $20 billion in the development of Iran’s Chabahar port and signed three pacts on crude oil imports, petrochemical complexes and gas field development.

The pacts were signed during the visit of India’s Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan to Iran from April 9-10.  Iran is India’s second largest supplier of oil after Saudi Arabia.

During the visit, Mr Pradhan met his Iranian counterpart Bijan Zanganeh in Tehran on April 9 where the two sides discussed increasing India’s import of Iranian oil from its current 350,000 barrels a day. “We hope this number will increase now that sanctions have been lifted,” Mr Zanganeh said.  Being the fastest growing economy in the world, India is looking to diversify its oil imports for the country’s energy security.  

The big takeaway was progress on India’s proposed investment in Chabahar port. India is ready to invest $20 billion in the development of Iran’s Chabahar port and has requested it to allocate adequate land in the Chabahar Special Economic Zone (SEZ), state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) said in a statement on March 10.

“Pradhan conveyed to the Iranian side that Indian companies could invest up to $20 billion and were interested in setting up petrochemical and fertiliser plants, including in the Chabahar SEZ, either through joint venture between Indian and Iranian public sector companies or with private sector partners,” the statement said.

“In this regard, he requested Iran to allocate appropriate and adequate land in the SEZ. He also expressed India’s interest in setting up a LNG plant and a gas cracker in the Chabahar port,” it said.

“Iran and India’s energy ties are no longer limited to crude oil imports,” Mr Pradhan said. The port which is located in southeastern Iran is strategically significant for India as it would give India access to Central Asia as well as Afghanistan and can bypass Pakistan. So far India has extended over $100 million Line of Credit for the development of Chabahar. 

With a focus on enhancing energy cooperation, Mr Pradhan said that enhanced energy cooperation can bolster Tehran-New Delhi relations. As the sanctions were lifted on Iran, it has been seeking to regain its foothold in the global markets and also sees India as an important player in the region.

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