India is ready to invest up to $20 billion in Iran’s energy industry and ports, and may boost imports of natural gas and oil if it gets “favorable” terms, Indian oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan said Sunday. Pradhan wrapped up his two-day trip to Iran Sunday, marking the first visit by an Indian oil minister to the Persian Gulf nation in nine years.
“Dharmendra Pradhan conveyed to the Iranian side that Indian companies could invest upto $20 billion and were interested in setting up petrochemical and fertilizer plants, including in the Chabahar SEZ [Special Economic Zone], either through joint venture between Indian and Iranian public sector companies or with private sector partners,” India’s state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC) reportedly said in a statement. “In this regard, he requested Iran to allocate appropriate and adequate land in the SEZ. ... He also requested the Iranian side for favorable treatment in the pricing of gas for India and also supply of rich gas at competitive price.”
However, Pradhan did not say when these investments would be made.
The industrial hub of Chabahar in southeastern Iran is located in the Gulf of Oman. The port is located close to the strategically important Strait of Hormuz, through which nearly 20 percent of the oil produced worldwide passes each day.
Iran has been seeking to reinvigorate its oil and natural gas industries since international sanctions on it were officially lifted in January. Last month, India imported an estimated 506,100 barrels of crude oil from Iran per day — the highest in at least five years and a jump of nearly 135 percent over February.
In addition to ramping up oil trade, the Indian government is also seeking to increase investment in Iran’s natural gas industry. During Pradhan's visit, the two countries discussed plans to develop Iran’s Farzad-B gas field and pledged to finalize terms of a contract “in a time-bound manner.”
“Both sides agreed to discuss development plan, financial and commercial terms of Farzad-B in a time-bound manner so as to conclude the discussions and consider awarding the development contract to ONGC Videsh-led consortium by October 2016,” ONGC said in the statement. “[Pradhan] also expressed India's interest in setting up a LNG plant and a gas cracker in the Chabahar port.”