ISLAMABAD - A high-powered Iranian technical delegation is due to visit Pakistan later this month to finalize the crucial Engineering and Procurement Contract (EPC) to kick start the work on Pakistan's section of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline also known as Peace pipeline. Well-placed government sources told TheNation on Wednesday that the delegation consisting of technical experts of Tadbir Energy, the Iranian contracting firm is expected to visit Pakistan next week to discuss and finalize EPC with Pakistani authorities in order to start work on the multi billion dollars project."We are hoping to finalize the ECP with Iranian contractors in a month or so to start the work without further delay", a senior Pakistani government official said requesting not to be named, hoping that work on Pakistan's segment of the pipeline would start shortly after signing of the EPC. The government of Iran has pledged to give $500 million to Pakistan as soft loan repayable in 20 years for laying the pipeline on Pakistan side.President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari and President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have already inaugurated Pakistan construction of works on the Pakistani section of the pipeline last month to complete construction in 22 months. Pakistan and Iran have agreed on the pipeline deal early this year on February 27.With a diameter of 56 inches the IP gas pipeline is aimed to deliver 8.7 billion cubic metres (310 billion cubic feet) of natural gas per year from Iran to Pakistan. A consortium of Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited is responsible for the construction of the pipeline.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 18-Apr-2013 here.