Asian oil meet: call for integrating energy market

New Delhi: Asian oil and gas producing, and consuming, countries have recognised the need for integrating the energy markets of the region as well as improving the transportation structure.

Speaking at the concluding session of the day-long round-table of Asian oil ministers on Friday, the Union petroleum minister, Mani Shankar Aiyar, said a need was felt to study the possibility and feasibility of promoting and developing gas and oil inter-connections through liquefied natural gas (LNG) and through trans-national oil and gas pipelines within the region for the purpose.

The oil producing countries included Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. The major oil consuming countries were Japan, Republic of Korea, China, Turkey and India. The participants agreed that regional cooperation in the Asian oil and gas economy must be pursued within the framework of global cooperation.

Summarising the day's discussion, Aiyar said that in relation to oil logistics, Republic of Korea had offered to make available crude and product storages. "This too will be studied. This study could include the exploration alternative linkages by land and sea throughout Asia, including alternatives of linking the Caspian basin to countries in South Asia," he said.

The next round table would be organised in Turkey, Aiyar said. Later, speaking to mediapersons, Aiyar said the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline project's future was bright. "There may be slippage of a few weeks from the time line drawn for the joint statement with Islamabad," he said, adding that "by early next year, this whole arrangement may become tri-lateral."

India was set to appoint the legal consultants in the next few weeks, he said. Asked about Russian oil company Gazprom, Aiyar said it "has indicated its keenness to participate in the pipeline project."

"We will be delighted at their participation but the participation will be through competitive bidding," he said.