Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – Iran has shown interest to involve Bangladesh in its planned cross-border gas pipeline, which will guarantee supply to energy-deficient Pakistan and India, officials said.
In a recent letter to the Finance Ministry’s Economic Relations Division (ERD), the Iranian ambassador in Dhaka said Bangladesh could join the IPI pipeline project to be built to supply natural gas from Iran, the officials said.
“We have forwarded the letter of Iranian envoy to the energy division. The division will now chart its own course,” a senior ERD official was quoted by the Financial Express (FE), a local newspaper, as saying. 
He said since the tri-nation gas pipeline is supposed to reach up to the Indian city of Kolkata, Bangladesh can be linked to the grid to secure gas supply by Iran. 
In 1995, Iran had signed a deal with Pakistan to export gas, but subsequently Tehran tapped Pakistan’s nuclear rival India to participate in the trilateral grid scheme. 
In 2000, Iranian government launched talks with officials of India and Pakistan on the possible routes, modes of transport, and geopolitical situation.
Dubbed the “peace pipeline,” the gas pipeline would traverse over 2,775 kilometers from Iran’s South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf through the Pakistani city of Khuzdar, with one branch going on to Karachi and a second branch extending to Multan and then on to India.
According to the Oil and Gas Journal, Iran has an estimated proven natural gas reserve of 1,045 trillion cubic feet (TCF), second only to Russia. 
Russia is the top reserve holder in the world with its 1,680 TCF of proven natural gas reserve as of January 2010, the Oil and Gas Journal said.
The ERD also official said Iran has indicated that the pipeline may stretch up to Kolkata and urged Bangladesh to explore the possibility of its inclusion.
“It is really a great opportunity for Bangladesh as the country’s recoverable gas reserve would start drying up from 2013,” he added. 
Currently, Bangladesh has a shortage of nearly 300 million cubic feet (MCF) of gas supply per day against total demand of 2300 MCF of gas, the newspaper said. 
BBN/SS/AD-15Aug10-10:33 am (BST)