China on December 9, 2016, refused to comment on a proposal being pushed by India and Russia to swap natural gas between the countries, including Myanmar, saying it was not aware of the details and preferred to know the reactions of other parties involved.
ONGC Videsh Ltd Managing Director Narendra K Verma said in New Delhi that India and Russia were in talks to swap natural gas with Myanmar and China respectively as an alternative to build a $25-billion pipeline, which would be the world's most expensive.
Currently, Myanmar sells gas to China through an existing pipeline. But according to the proposal, if Russia provides equivalent gas to China, then India can reverse the flow of gas from Myanmar to China and bring that gas to India. In effect, Russia will supply gas to China and in return China will give its share of gas from Myanmar to India.
«I have noticed this. But we don't know the details,» Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters when asked about the proposal.
«I suggest you check with other relevant parties Russia and Myanmar,» he said declining to outline China's stand yet.
India and Russia had in October 2016 signed an initial pact for building a 4,500-6,000 kilometre-long pipeline from Siberia to the world's third-biggest energy consumer.
But Verma said talks are on with Russian gas monopoly Gazprom for the alternative swap arrangement.
A smaller and economical pipeline from Myanmar will need to be build into eastern India for importing that gas. For the arrangement to see the light of the day would require China and Myanmar to come on board.