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$7.5 billions pipeline gas agreements between Iran and Pakistan

18 марта 2010 г., 09:20Alarabonline1927


Pakistan and Iran signed agreements Tuesday paving the way for a seriously-delayed 7.5 billion-dollar gas pipeline. The project has been trumpeted in Pakistan, which produces just 80 percent of the electricity it needs, as a partial answer to a crippling energy crisis in which has led to debilitating blackouts and suffocated industry. Pakistani Petroleum Minister Naveed Qamar said the heads of agreement (HOA) and operational agreement (OA) signed in Turkey on Tuesday was a "historic achievement and a milestone towards meeting the energy needs of the country". He expressed hope that "physical work will start soon enabling the gas into the system by the timeline".


The United States has been pushing for a pipeline to South Asian countries from Turkmenistan via Afghanistan that would bypass Iran. Under the deal, Tehran is to supply 750 million cubic feet (21 million cubic metres) to one billion cubic feet per day to Pakistan by mid-2015, the Islamabad government said in a statement overnight. The project, when initially mooted in 1994, proposed to carry gas from Iran to Pakistan and India. But India withdrew last year over repeated disputes on prices and transit fees. "The HOA deals with transporting the Indian gas volume through the Pakistani territory if and when India decides to join the project," the Islamabad government statement said. "As per the HOA, Pakistan will have the right to charge the transit fee in return of the safe transit of Indian volume," it said.


New Delhi came under pressure from the United States not to do business with Iran, viewed in Washington as a state sponsor of terrorism that is bent on acquiring nuclear weapons. Pakistani political analyst Rassol Bakhsh Raees hailed the pipeline, despite the US pressure, as a "historic development in a sense that it is going to finally link up more than three to four countries". "There is a great possibility of this pipeline being extended to India at a later stage. But this will happen once US pressure subsides on New Delhi," said the political science professor at Lahore University of Management Sciences.


But Raees said natural gas from Iran would greatly help meet Pakistan's domestic energy requirements. "This is an important project from Pakistan's energy security point of view," he said. The 900-kilometre (560-mile) pipeline is being built between Asalooyeh in southern Iran and Iranshahr near the border with Pakistan and will carry the gas from Iran's South Pars field. 


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