Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pakistan, Iran to sign pipeline deal
Anita Joshua

Two months after Pakistan and Iran signed a deal for the construction of a pipeline that would allow Iranian gas to be pumped into Balochistan and Sindh, the two countries will sign a sovereign guarantee on Friday for constructing the much delayed project that was envisaged as a “peace pipeline'' extending right into India.

The sovereign guarantee for the $ 7.6 billion project will be signed by representatives of the National Iranian Oil Company and Pakistan's Petroleum Ministry. The two countries had inked the deal on March 17 this year in Turkey as per which a pipeline will connect Iran's South Pars gas field with Pakistan's southern Balochistan and Sindh provinces.

As part of the project, gas will be pumped directly into “energy-hungry'' Pakistan daily from Iran by the middle of the next decade.

The pipeline will begin from Iran's Assalouyeh Energy Zone in the South and stretch over 1,100 km through the country before it enters Pakistan. The initial capacity of the pipeline will be 22 billion cubic meters of natural gas per annum. It is expected to be later raised to 55 billion cubic metres.

Security considerations and inability to come to an understanding with Pakistan over transmission charges saw India vacillate over joining the project.

Finally, Iran and Pakistan decided to enter into a bilateral agreement though the former has continued to maintain that India was welcome to join the project.


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