India has pushed for participation in Iran&’s Farzad-B oil and gas field in the Persian Gulf, which has an estimated reserve of 12.8-trillion cubic feet, at the India-Iran joint commission meeting (JCM) here.
During the 18th JCM, chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Iran&’s Economic and Finance Minister Ali Tayebnia here on Monday, both sides examined the possibility of cooperation in the railways sector.
Sushma stressed on the need for “early completion of all necessary procedures for India&’s participation in Farzad-B field and pointed out India&’s desire to participate in other oil and gas explorations in Iran as well”, according an official statement.
Meanwhile, Tayebnia called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who warmly recalled his meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Ufa earlier this year and reiterated India's keen desire to expand its economic cooperation with Iran.
Earlier this year, a consortium of Indian oil and gas exploration and production companies, led by ONGC Videsh, submitted a revised development plan for the Farzad-B gas field in Iran.
India has been keen to push ahead with oil and gas projects with Iran ever since the removal of anti-Iran sanctions by the West opened up possibilities of more cooperation in the energy sector.
A consortium headed by ONGC Videsh discovered the Farzad-B gas field in 2008 in the Farsi offshore block. India has been seeking development rights for the field.
The Indian consortium that visited Iran was asked to submit a development plan for Farzad-B.
Tehran is known to have offered a draft contract for the block, including a mix of production sharing and service contract.
At the JCM, both sides also discussed the Chabahar Port that India is developing.
Sushma stressed that connectivity afforded by Indian participation in Chabahar Port will facilitate linking Afghanistan and Central Asia with India. The Iranian side suggested participation of India&’s public and private sectors in development of Chabahar Port and Chabahar Free Trade Zone (FTZ) and in setting up industrial units in the FTZ, the statement added.
India and Iran had inked a MoU to expand the Chabahar Port in May during Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari&’s visit to Tehran.
Development of the strategic port will give India access to Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan entirely. Chabahar port will also facilitate India&’s natural gas imports from Iran. The port is also expected to serve as the point of origin for the proposed Iran- Oman-India gas pipeline. India is also keen to develop the port early as it is viewed as a strategic counterweight to China&’s developing Pakistan&’s Gwadar port.
Sushma underlined the efforts underway to enhance bilateral economic cooperation in energy, infrastructure, including shipping, ports and railways, and trade and commerce.
The two ministers reviewed the progress in trade and economic cooperation and a number of related matters, and discussed the possibilities in cooperation in railways, including by supply of rails, rolling stock, signalling and other works and India&’s participation in the Chabahar-Zahedan-Mashhad railway line, the statement said.
Ahead of the JCM, both sides had held meetings of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on Trade & Commerce (on November 18-19), Jthe oint Working Group on Energy (December 26) and the Joint Working Group on Infrastructure (on December 26).
Sushma stressed on the need for “early completion of all necessary procedures" for India’s participation in Farzad-B field.