ISLAMABAD: Despite international sanctions on Tehran, Pakistan has agreed to complete Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline Project on time but in two phases.
Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, at the sidelines of the 19th session of the Pakistan-Iran Joint Economic Commission (JEC), said that Pakistan could not complete project on time due to curbs on Iran (over its controversial nuclear programme).
Abbasi informed Iranian Minister for Economic Affairs and Finance Ali Taieb Nia that despite Pakistan’s best efforts banks, international contractors and equipment suppliers were not ready to be involved in this project. The minister was accompanied, among others, by the governor-general of Sistan and the Ambassador of Iran to Pakistan.
“We are now planning to complete this project in two steps. First, we are installing LNG terminal at Gawadar Port and secondly, a 42-inch pipeline of 700km length will be laid from Gawadar to Nawabshah for onward transmission of gas to the northern parts of the country,” Abbasi said.
The minister informed the visiting delegation that Pakistan is in talks with Chinese companies for construction of this pipeline and the 70km portion of the pipeline from Gawadar to Iran border will be completed by Pakistani companies. He hoped that this project will start in the near future. There is hardly any trade in oil between Pakistan and Iran, the minister said, adding Pakistan wanted to increase trade substantially after the sanction issue was closed.
Ali Taieb Nia has said that Iran has already completed its part of the gas project and hoped Pakistan will fulfil its commitment to complete its part of the project. He expressed his desire the Iranian gas should flow into Pakistan soon so that Pakistan may be able to overcome its energy shortfall.
Pakistan and Iran have also signed five memorandums of understanding (MoUs), under the observation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, to boost cooperation in the field of investment, economic and technical assistance, small and medium enterprises, ports and handicraft.