Gas pipeline under shadow of politics
Islamabad—Pakistan and Iran are set to sign deals for supply of over 3,000 megawatts of electricity to meet energy needs during Iranian President Hasan Rouhani’s visit to Islamabad, beginning from March 25.
“Three power import deals are expected to be inked by the two countries including supply of 100MW, 75MW and 1,000MW,” a senior official of ministry water and power informed Pakistan Observer. The 1,000MW agreement could be extended to 3,000MW of electricity. Pakistan is already importing 73MW to meet the requirement of Gwadar but payments could not be made since 2011.
Now that sanctions have been removed from Iran, officials believe banking channels will be opened, paving the way for payment of outstanding bills.
Rouhani’s scheduled arrival here holds great significance in the backdrop of lifting of global restrictions and current visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif to Saudi Arabia.
According to the Ministry of Water and Power, Minister Khawaja Asif assured the Iranian government that Pakistan would play a positive role in bringing peace in the region.
Officials said that the Iranian president is expected to push Pakistan to implement the IP pipeline project, which had earlier been stalled by the sanctions on Tehran.
The Iranian Embassy official informed that friendship between Islamabad and Tehran would be reflected in joint projects and the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline was one of the best schemes in this regard.
The pipeline was to start running in December 2014 but work could not kick off. Pakistan had tried to engage China and Russia to help implement and finance the pipeline but to no avail. Even Iran offered to finance the project but after formation of the new government there the plan was shelved.
Four countries ink deal for $10 billion TAPI gas pipeline project Now, hopes are high that the two countries will be able to press on with the plan. Pakistan has already awarded a contract for laying a liquefied natural gas pipeline and building a terminal in Gwadar to a Chinese company. This pipeline will be extended to the Iranian border to connect to the IP pipeline. Officials said the Iranian president would take up the issue with Pakistan as the government had earlier given a commitment to starting work on the project after removal of sanctions.
If Pakistan did not push ahead with the project, it would have to pay penalties running into millions of dollars, which could strain ties between the two countries.