Iran wanted India's involvement at a later stage: MEA on Farzad-B project

Days after it lost the ONGC-discovered Farzad-B gas field in the Persian Gulf, India on Thursday said Iran wanted its involvement in the project at a later stage.

Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Arindam Bagchi said the Indian consortium concerned is in touch with Iranian authorities on the issue.

"Last July, Iran had decided to develop the Farzad B gas field on its own and wanted to involve India appropriately at a later stage," he said.

"The involvement of the Indian consortium is underway and we are in touch with them. The latest development is, of course, part of Iran's own efforts to develop the gas field and our consortium is in touch with Iranian authorities," he said.

The Iranian oil ministry's official news service Shana reported three days ago that the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) signed a contract worth USD 1.78 billion with Petropars Group on May 17 for the development of the Farzad B gas field in the Persian Gulf.

ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), the overseas investment arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), had in 2008 discovered the gas field in the Farsi offshore exploration block.

OVL and its partners had offered to invest up to USD 11 billion for the development of the discovery, which was later named Farzad-B.

To a question on the escalating situation in Gaza, Bagchi said India is closely following developments.

He also referred to a detailed statement made by India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations T S Tirumurti on May 16.

"We also expect to make a statement on the issue at the UN General Assembly over the next day or two when the issue comes up again," Bagchi said.

Replying to a question on China threatening Bangladesh not to join Quad, he said does not have any comment to offer and referred to Dhaka's response to it.

However, he mentioned the remarks made by Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on March 12 after a virtual summit of Quad leaders that the issue of expansion of the grouping was not discussed during the deliberations.

Asked about remarks by the High Commissioner of Singapore on Wednesday that his country reserves the right to invoke a domestic fake news law on Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for his comments on a new COVID-19 strain in that country, Bagchi said he does not have anything to add to what has already been put out in the public domain.

"I do not think I have anything to add to what has already been put out in the public domain," he said.

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