ISLAMABAD Pakistan, which is likely to award engineering and equipment procurement contract for much awaited Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline soon, is expecting to get Chinese nod for the project to meet ever-growing energy needs of the country, TheNation has learnt. Pakistani delegation, led by Federal Water and Power Minister Naveed Qamar, has also sought investment and offered the engineering and equipment procurement contract for the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline to China, sources privy to the development shared while talking to this scribe, adding that Pakistan is likely to finalize an engineering and procurement deal with China for the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, which may also provide financing in line with the growing energy cooperation between the two sides. According to sources in the Ministry of Water and Power, Naveed Qamar, who is leading the Pakistani delegation in the 1st meeting of China-Pakistan Joint Energy Working Group (JEWG) said Tuesday that the growing energy demand in Pakistan is a challenge for the government, yet it provides immense opportunities to the Chinese investors to contribute towards reducing energy shortages in the country while sharing the benefits. Pakistan, the minister said, is currently faced with energy demand-supply gap, saying that the government is fully committed to resolve the prevalent energy shortages and achieving energy security objectives on sustainable basis with active support of friendly countries, especially China. Earlier, Pakistan had also made a formal offer to Russian energy giant Gazprom, the largest extractor of natural gas in the world, to participate in the Iran-Pakistan pipeline project in a meeting of the Pak-Russia Inter-governmental Commission held on September 22, 2010 in Russia. Again, as Russia and China are in vie with each other to win the construction contract, and a consortium of Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL), Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) and an Italian company Eni are also lobbying to grab the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the pipeline, which will bring Iranian gas to Pakistan to meet its ever-soaring energy needs. Currently, a Germany based consultancy firm ILF is conducting a route survey on the Pakistani side of the pipeline and will shortly be completing the assigned task. Then, the engineering and equipment procurement contract will be granted. According to sources, SSGC and SNGPL had also sought a share with ILF in the consultancy contract, which caused a delay in completing the survey. It might be worth mentioning here that ILF got this contract for $55 million and is currently working in collaboration with National Engineering Services of Pakistan (Nespak). Reportedly, a major part of the survey for laying the pipeline from Iranian border to Nawabshah has been completed and the remaining part is expected to be finished soon. The deal is part of the long-delayed $7.5 billion Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project. The capacity of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline was 110 million cubic meters. Around 1,100 kilometers of the pipeline is reportedly installed in Iran, while the remaining 1,000 kilometers are planned to be set up in Pakistan. The 2,775-km pipeline was proposed to start from Asalouyeh (from the South Pars field) and stretch over 1,100 km through Iran while in Pakistan, it was proposed to pass through Balochistan and Sindh. In Khuzdar, a branch would spur-off to Karachi, while the main pipeline would continue towards Multan. The project will be funded through public-private partnership, which will cost Pakistan an estimated $1.25 billion for its side of the pipeline. It is worth mentioning here that after receiving final nod from Iran Pakistan has geared up its efforts to ensure smooth supply of imported gas to the country till 2012 under the proposed multi-billion dollar Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project (IPI). Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim last month announced that Pakistan would start the work for building the pipeline within the next six months. Similarly, Ejaz Chaudry, Secretary Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, earlier while talking to TheNation confirmed that the incumbent government viewing the outages of gas has intensified work on the multi-billion dollar pipeline project to ensure gas supply from Iran to Pakistan in 2012. It is relevant to mention that Pakistan is in dire need of gas and electricity and had been in talks with various countries to import to meet the crunching national needs as the energy shortages have worsened over the recent years. However, sources were upbeat that IP has emerged as a glimmer of hope to overcome the energy shortage due to gap in demand and supply by utilizing regional resources. Additionally, Pakistan and Iran have already signed an agreement on sovereign guarantee. They have also inked a gas sale and purchase deal for import of 750 million cubic feet per day of natural gas.