Pakistan Needs Iran Gas, Eyes More Projects

Pakistan Needs Iran Gas, Eyes More ProjectsPakistan Needs Iran Gas, Eyes More Projects

Pakistani Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said his country seriously pursues the issue of gas import from Iran.

In an exclusive interview with IRNA, Khaqan Abbasi also said that so far, Pakistan has spent tens of millions of dollars for importing gas from Iran, hinting that it would be unreasonable for Islamabad to abandon this project.

“There is no doubt that Pakistan is serious in the joint implementation of the gas pipeline project with Iran,” he added.

“Having a neighbor like Iran with abundant gas reserves is a great advantage for Pakistan,” Abbasi said.

“Pakistan will not only try to grasp this opportunity without hesitating, but we are also considering constructing three or more pipeline projects with the aim of importing gas from Iran,” the Pakistani minister asserted.

Referring to the recent plunge in global oil prices, Abbasi said that the situation is not at all in favor of Pakistan, as an oil and gas importer, “because the oil producing countries would rather slash imports of non-oil products.” This, he said, would have a negative impact on Pakistan’s economy as it exports non-oil commodities to countries that sell it oil and gas.

The oil ministry last week denied any agreement with Pakistan regarding the Iran-Pakistan (IP) pipeline project; however, it affirmed that negotiations were held between the two neighbors to resolve the long-pending issues.

The pipe laying project within Iran’s border was carried out at a cost of $2.5 billion; however, the 780 km pipeline due in Pakistan has not been laid due to funding difficulties faced by the Pakistani government.

The government in Islamabad is now planning to complete the project in two phases – first, a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal would be built at the Gwadar Port and then a 42-inch pipeline spread over 700km would be laid from Gwadar to Nawabshah for onward transmission of gas to northern parts of the country, Abbasi said.

It is still unclear whether Iran extended the time limit for the construction of IP pipeline project, and waived off the$3 million penalty per day, which Pakistan was due to pay as of January 1, 2015 for delays on construction of the pipeline within the agreed timeframe.

The Financial Times cited the Pakistani oil minister as saying on Dec. 26 that in line with “new understanding” between the countries there will be no penalty applicable from January 1. However, in his interview with IRNA on Saturday, Abbasi stressed that he had never made such a statement in a recent interview with the FT.

Amir Abbas Soltani, a member of the Energy Committee of Iran’s Parliament rejected the claim that Tehran has exempted Pakistan from fines for delay in the completion of the long-awaited joint project, saying that the committee will study the issue. “There has been no agreement in this regard yet.”