Moscow-Islamabad $2b Pipeline Deal Likely

Moscow-Islamabad $2b Pipeline Deal Likely Moscow-Islamabad $2b Pipeline Deal Likely

Energy-starved Pakistan is likely to sign a $2 billion deal with Russia for laying a liquefied natural gas pipeline from Karachi to Lahore, a sign of increasing ties between the Cold War-era adversaries. The deal is expected to be signed next month during Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's visit to Moscow to attend a summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

"We are trying to sign an LNG pipeline accord with Russia in a government-to-government arrangement during the visit of prime minister to Moscow," Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune.

During the SCO meeting, Pakistan and India are expected to get permanent membership of the SCO regional forum. In addition to financing the pipeline, Russia has also agreed to export LNG to help ease energy shortages in Pakistan and this issue will come up for discussion during the bilateral talks.

"The Russian side is very positive about helping Pakistan in tackling the energy crisis," an official said. "It will start LNG exports in 2016." The two sides have already signed an initial deal in the form of a protocol and finalized an agreement during earlier talks in Moscow.

Under the partnership, Russia will provide $2 billion to lay a 1,100-km pipeline from Karachi to Lahore for supplying LNG that will be imported from Qatar and other countries. Pakistan will award the contract to Russia without inviting bids.