Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of State (I/C) for Petroleum and Natural Gas, visited Iran from 9-10 April 2016. On 9th April, Sh Pradhan had meetings with Minister of Petroleum Mr Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, Senior Advisor to the President of Iran on Free Trade Zones Mr Akbar Torkan and Governor of Iranian Central Bank Dr Valliolah Seif.
During the meetings, the leaders noted that India-Iran bilateral relations have withstood the tests of time. Sh Pradhan expressed that the lifting of sanction was an important milestone in Iranian history and represented a significant success for patient diplomacy and signalled a new chapter of peace and prosperity for Iran. The leaders agreed that it has opened up opportunities in our bilateral relations for new initiatives in the spheres of energy, investments and regional connectivity.
Both sides also discussed the developments regarding Farzab-B gas fields and expressed confidence on concluding an agreement at the earliest. The issue relating to payment of dues by Indian refineries to Iran towards purchase of crude oil were also discussed. Sh Pradhan conveyed that India was committed towards making payments as and when banking channels, acceptable to both sides, were available.
Sh 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, either through Joint Venture between Indian and Iranian public sector companies or with private sector partners. In this regard, he requested Iran to allocate appropriate and adequate land in the SEZ. He also requested the Iranian side for favourable treatment in the pricing of gas for India and also supply of rich gas at competitive price and on long term basis for the life of the joint venture projects that Indian companies are interested in setting up. He said that competitive gas pricing was crucial in making the projects attractive for the prospective investors. He also expressed India’s interest in setting up a LNG plant and a gas cracker in the Chabahar port.
Sh Pradhan also conveyed to the Iranian side that both countries must expand the basket of oil and gas trade. He expressed India’s interest in importing LPG from Iran and said that companies from both sides could discuss setting up an extraction plant in Chabahar, if required. Both sides agreed to continue examining various means of evacuation of gas such as LNG, including through the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline.
On 10th April, Sh Pradhan and his delegation visited Chabahar Free Trade Zone and Port for a site visit and discussed the facilities and incentives which could be offered to Indian companies.
The visit came 9 years after the previous visit by an Indian Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas. It was the first visit of an Indian minister to Iran after sanctions were lifted this January. Shri Pradhan was accompanied by senior officials from his Ministry and also from Department of Petrochemicals, Department of Fertilizers, Department of Economic Affairs, apart from CMDs/MDs from Central Public Sector Oil and Gas companies. Representatives of private sector companies involved in petroleum, petrochemicals and fertilizers sectors also travelled along with Mr Pradhan as part of FICCI delegation.