Fresh IP Pipeline Talks in May

Fresh IP Pipeline Talks in MayFresh IP Pipeline Talks in May

Tehran and Islamabad will resume talks on the protracted Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline project during a visit by Pakistan's Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to Tehran next month.

Mobin Saulat, the chief executive of Pakistan's Inter State Gas Systems, added that the state visit, likely to take place in mid-May, will be made on the official invitation of Iran's Oil Ministry, IRNA reported.

A Pakistani delegation will arrive in Tehran ahead of the upcoming visit to lay the groundwork negotiations, he added.

Initially named Iran-Pakistan-India Gas Pipeline, the ambitious project to deliver natural gas from Iran's South Pars Gas Field in the Persian Gulf all the way to India through Pakistan was unveiled with much fanfare over a decade ago, but has since faced numerous financial and political roadblocks.

In 2008, India's name was dropped after the country backed out on the project over pricing and security issues.

The pipeline's construction was announced to commence in 2012 to be completed in two years. But it went downhill after the US and the EU introduced tougher sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.

Pakistan has been equally sluggish in finishing the pipeline in its territory. The country has blamed financial woes and international restrictions in doing business with Iran for the delay in laying the pipeline on its side.

  Fresh Talks

But Tehran's historic nuclear agreement with six world powers in July 2015 and its ensuing implementation in January has left little room for Islamabad to tiptoe around in negotiations with an Iran unshackled by western embargos and ready for trade and dialogue.

In his first visit to Islamabad last month after the lifting of sanctions, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran is ready to “undertake the security of energy supply to Pakistan”.

But some officials are not as optimistic about the future of Iran and Pakistan's most important energy project.

In a statement last week, Iran's Ambassador to India Gholamreza Ansari played down hopes on the completion of the so-called Peace Pipeline.

"We should forget about it … Americans will not let it happen," he said.

"Those who have invested in LNG projects in India will not allow the pipeline venture to take off. People who have invested in LNG in India, I don't think they will let any pipes to come in."

Natural gas is an important source of energy for Pakistan, accounting for nearly one-third of its primary energy supply after biomass and waste, according to the International Energy Agency.