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India plans to use Israeli pipeline for crude imports, says Aiyar

Friday 10 June 2005

``Immense possibility of us becoming consumers of Caspian oil’’

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Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar

BAKU: India on Friday proposed to diversify its sources of crude supplies by using an Israeli pipeline to access crude oil from the Central Asia and Caspian Sea region to feed its fuel needs.

Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, addressing the 12th International Caspian Oil and Gas Conference here, said the 254-km-long Eilot-Ashqelon pipeline could be used for transporting east Mediterranean crude to the Red Sea, from where it can be shipped to India.

Oil, according to Mr. Aiyar, could be pumped from the Caspian region into the just-commissioned 1,764-km Baku (Azerbaijan- Tblisi (Georgia)-Ceyhan (Turkey)) pipeline to reach the Mediterranean Sea, from where it could be pumped into the Israeli pipeline for Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) to pick up at the Red Sea for transporting it to India.

``There is immense possibility of us becoming consumers of Caspian oil. We are ready to pick up whatever Caspian oil is available in the Mediterranean Sea at competitive rates,’’ Mr. Aiyar said.

The Eilot-Ashqelon pipeline has been engaged in transporting oil from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean for 30 years.

It will change its direction for the second time in November to enable a VLCT (Very Large Crude Oil Tanker) to ship Ashqelon oil from Eilot at the shore of the Red Sea to Asia.

Russia had also proposed to use the Israeli pipeline for export of oil to Asia. Russia had long been considering increasing its oil sale to Asia, whose demand for oil has surpassed that of Europe.

India, among the big Asian importers, is intentionally reducing its dependence on oil from West Asia.

The Israeli pipeline provides an alternative for oil companies and saves their oil tankers - which are too big to pass through the Suez Canal - from going all the way around Africa to supply crude to Asian buyers.

Mr. Aiyar said there had been no connection between the Caspian region and South Asia in the energy sector and the proposed restoration of the ancient silk route by opening a link for flow of oil and gas from the region to Asia. - PTI

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