Joining the Iran-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline project would give Bangladesh access to Iranian gas and resolve its energy crisis, Bangladeshi Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith said Thursday.
Bangladesh has a natural gas deficit and at some point will have to import gas, Muhith told journalists after a meeting between Bangladeshi and Iranian officials in Dhaka.
"If the IPI gas pipeline is expanded up to India we can join it," said the minister. "When the pipeline is built from Iran to India, it will come to West Bengal of India, which is close to Bangladesh.
Mehdi Ghazanfari, Iran's minister for industry, mines and trade, who led the Iranian team to the meeting, said it would be "quite possible" for Iran to export gas to Bangladesh.
The possibilities of importing LNG from Iran was also discussed in the meeting. But that was discounted in the immediate term by Muhith.
"It is better to import natural gas through pipeline instead of importing LNG," Muhith said. Bangladesh will also consider LNG imports from Iran after building necessary import facilities in the next two years.
"But, since the IPI gas pipeline is coming to India, we are willing to join the pipeline," he said.
The proposed IPI pipeline would be 2,700 km (1,620 miles) long and would bring gas from Iran's South Pars fields in the Persian Gulf to Pakistan's major cities of Karachi and Multan and then to Delhi, India. Its estimated cost is $7 billion.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari launched the final construction phase of the Iran-Pakistan section pipeline on the Iran-Pakistan border in March.
India, which has been boycotting formal talks on the project since 2007 over security concerns, recently has shown interest to re-enter negotiations for the project, according to Indian media.
Bangladesh's gas supply is around 2.27 Bcf/d compared with demand of 2.7 Bcf/d-3.0 Bcf/d, according to the energy ministry.