TAPI pipeline project real-time investment for India: Khurshid

New Delhi, Sep 3 (IANS) External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid Tuesday termed the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project as a "real-time investment" in India's future that would require a lot of patience and forbearance of difficult situations that arise in India's neighbourhood.

Addressing the third National Conference on Energy Security organised by FICCI here, Khurshid also said that while countries like China may have moved ahead of India in energy scouting, India was always welcomed with "warmth and high esteem" to whichever country it went to for energy cooperation.

He said ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), was doing an "outstanding job" in prospecting for oil and gas in countries like Canada, Australia, and Mozambique.

On the $7.6-billion TAPI project that is to transport gas from Turkmenistan, Khurshid described it as a "big ticket project".

"It is not a pipe-dream, but a real-time investment in India's future. But it will require a degree of patience, and forbearance of difficult situations that arise in India's neighbourhood... And if we are going to respond and react to every little difficult situation and allow it to spill over and get out of control into the larger sphere, then we will never be able to fulfil things that we hoped we can do in the next few years, and the TAPI pipeline is one of them," Khurshid said.

His comments come in the backdrop of reports that Pakistan has refused to participate in talks with India on the 1,080-km TAPI gas pipeline project following increased tensions between the two nations over ceasefire violations. In the wake of the killing of five Indian soldiers on the Line of Control in early August, the opposition parties had asked India to call off talks with Pakistan, including prime ministerial talks between the two scheduled for later this month in New York.

Khurshid also said India was looking at the energy cooperation opportunities available and spreading out its supply base. India was also looking at boosting its hydropower sources from neighbouring Nepal and Bhutan and also how much it can get from civil nuclear energy, solar and wind energy.

Khurshid also suggested that the judiciary wing be invited for conferences such as these as it would help them get a better understanding of issues when they have to make decisions.

"We have sociological analysis of law but on important economic decisions an economic analysis should be made available to the courts ... Judges don't come here (to such events), they decide in vacuum," he said, and suggested that members of the judiciary should also be invited to attend, like ministers do.

He also reacted positively to suggestions by the panel of CEOs of the hydrocardon industry to have diplomats specially "groomed in the energy sector" or have experts on the field to interact with dignitaries of energy exporting countries.

The conference with the theme, Securing Energy Supply for a Stronger Economy, was organised by FICCI with the external affairs ministry.

D.K. Sarraf, managing director of ONGC Videsh Ltd, stressed the need for MEA to have diplomats groomed in the energy sector or experts to help during dialogue on energy cooperation with other countries.

R.S. Sharma, chairman, FICCI, Hydrocarbon Committee and former chairman and MD ONGC, suggested that the government form an Energy Security Council under the chairmanship of the prime minister, which would look into all forms of energy, including wind and solar.

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