Sunday 5 July 2015

South Asia Gas Enterprise (SAGE) Pipeline is stuck

Why in news?
  • A UN resolution, extending Pakistan EEZ from 200 to 350 nautical miles, in March 2015, has dashed India’s hope for a natural gas pipeline from the Middle East. 
What is SAGE pipeline?

  • The $4-billion deepwater pipeline was proposed by South Asia Gas Enterprise (SAGE) from the Middle East — bypassing Pakistan — after the onland Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline got stuck on New Delhi’s decision to backpedal on the project because of geopolitical and security reasons.
What is the issue?

  • The above Flash file has been created by and belongs absolutely to Sage India. I have no role in its formation. Flash Courtesy: Sage India. It has been added here with a bonafide belief that it will help world know better about SAGE. 
  • The sea route was outside Pakistan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to transport gas from Chabahar in Iran and Ra’s-al-Jifan in Oman to Porbandar in Gujarat state with a spur line to Mumbai later. (see Map below)
  • However, that situation has changed after the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) extended Pakistan’s seabed territory by another 150 nautical miles on March 19, 2015.
  • The extension of the continental shelf from 200 nautical miles to 350 nautical miles would give Islamabad special rights with regards to exploration and use of marine resources, including energy production in the area under its jurisdiction, also described as its EEZ.
    • Under UNCLOS, coastal nations are allowed economic control of the waters and seabed up to 200 nautical miles from their shores. They can further claim an extended shelf up to 350 nautical miles from the baseline of sea if they prove natural prolongation of their land.

Image Source: The Indian Express

Past record of Pakistan
  • In 1995 Islamabad blocked a proposed deep-sea pipeline from Oman to India because it crossed its exclusive economic zone. So it seems now also it will not agree.
Problems of SAGE
  • Pakistan EEZ (discussed above)
  • SAGE project hinges on an offshore gas compression station on Qualhat Seamount (Murray Ridge), about 300km from the Omani coast. The seamount could now fall under Pakistan’s control and the station can be set up with Islamabad’s approval


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