ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf-led government on Wednesday showed keenness to resume works on Iran-Pakistan pipeline project that was shelved two years back, ruling out submission to any ‘pressure’.
“Pakistan (is) fully committed to implement IP gas pipeline project without any foreign pressure,” Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Ghulam Sarwar said. “IP gas project is top priority for Pakistan more than any other gas pipeline project.”
Petroleum minister was talking to Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoost at a meeting, according to an official statement.
The Iran–Pakistan gas pipeline, also known as the Peace Pipeline, is a 2,775-kilometer pipeline to deliver around one billion cubic feet/day of natural gas from Iran to Pakistan.
Earlier, a senior official told The News that Pakistan shelved IP project in 2016 in the wake of pressure of a leading gulf country. Iran has already laid pipelines on its part, while Pakistan has yet to lay 781-kilometre in territory considering the US sanctions on the western Asian nation.
The official said Tehran fretted over the delay, and warned that it might move the arbitration court against the delay of the project, which has been under discussion since 1994.
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Petroleum minister accepted the invitation to visit Iran. The minister and the ambassador have agreed to have a meeting of working group on IP gas pipeline before the minister’s visit to Iran.
Sarwar said unfortunately the project was delayed in the past due to international sanctions.
The minister has acknowledged the cooperation offered by Iran in areas of electricity supply to coastal areas.
“Both countries need more cooperation and investment in areas of energy and petroleum,” he said.
Iranian envoy said IP gas pipeline will be a game changer for the region. “Other countries are willing to cooperate in construction of IP gas pipeline.”
The ambassador also offered cooperation in government to government deal in the area of import of petroleum products to curb the smuggling.
Pakistan has to rely on import of liquefied natural gas from Qatar considering the depleting local gas reserves and to bridge two billion cubic feet/day of shortfall. Still, the imported super cool gas is relatively cheaper means of power production with its share in electricity generation having increased to around 25 percent.
Energy experts call for alternative sources of energy to ease pressure on import bill. Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project was envisaged in view of its low cost terrestrial transportation from neighbouring Iran that already supplies 80 to 100 megawatts of electricity to Gwadar in Balochistan.
(This news/article originally appeared in The News on September 13th, 2018)