ISLAMABAD - The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources is awaiting approvals from Central Development Working Party (CDWP) and Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) to apply for the foreign funding for laying the pipeline on the Pakistani side of the border, under the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project.

"As per procedure, to formally apply for financing as Buyer's Credit, PC-I of the project needs to be approved by the (CDWP) and (ECNEC). The PC-I has been submitted by the ministry and approval of the same is awaited," a senior official of the ministry told APP on Sunday.

“After lifting of the sanctions on Iran, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was of the view that by and large, most of the sanctions, but a few in specific cases, had been withdrawn,” he said, adding, “Whereas, the remaining restrictions pertained mainly to nuclear and arms related transactions.”

"Accordingly, in compliance with the UNSC resolution on lifting of the sanctions, Pakistan issued Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) on February 19, 2016," the official informed.

He said that following the CDWP and ECNEC's nod, the ministry would approach China through the Economic Affairs Division for financing the project, and Economic Coordination Committee for the constitution of a Price Negotiation Committee to recommend acceptance of the price proposal from China Petroleum Pipeline - the project executing company.

"Given the loss of time, the IP project timelines need to be extended,” he said, adding “Pakistan is already working on the project under the alternative strategy.”

He hoped that Pakistan's proposal to amend the Gas Sale Purchase Agreement (GSPA) would be accepted by Iran.

"The details, in this regard, can be sorted out by the Experts Group, which should meet to discuss and decide on all outstanding matters," he said.

“Recently, the official said, “Iran has invited Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to visit Tehran to discuss the way forward on the project.”

Sharing details of the project, he said that Inter-Governmental Framework Declaration was signed by the two countries on May 24, 2009, while GSPA had been reached on June 2009.

“Subsequently, Pakistan issued sovereign guarantee on May 28, 2010; the project consultant was appointed on April 11, 2011, while the design, feasibility, route survey and other formalities were completed on September 8, 2012,” the official elaborated.

Explaining further, he said the 56-inch diameter pipeline would start from South Pars gas field in Iran and end in Nawab Shah, covering the distance of around 1,931 kilometers; with 1,150 km portion in Iran and 781 km in Pakistan.

He informed the project was to be executed on the basis of a segmented approach, according to which each country would be responsible for laying the pipeline in the respective territory.

“The 750 mmcfd gas flow in the pipeline is projected to help generate around 4,000 MW of electricity also, along with creating job opportunities in backward areas of Balochistan and Sindh,” he expressed the optimism.

The official was hopeful that the gas shortage would be overcome before the expiry of PML-N government’s term.

“If all goes well, the gas supply will begin in two years,” he predicted.