ISLAMABAD - AHMAD AHMADANI- The crucial talks between Iranian firm Tadbir Energy and Pakistan’s Inter-State Gas Systems have been postponed till the next week to resolve the minor differences ahead of finalising a deal concerning the $1.5 billion Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project.

Signing of the agreement for the 781-km-long gasline – to be laid on Pakistani side – will take place the next week the moment the Iranian firm touches down in Pakistan.

Pakistani side, on the fifth day of the talks, handed over the draft of the Engineering, Procurement and Commissioning (EPC) agreement to the visiting bloc for approval from Iranian authorities in the light of the international laws, and in the aftermath of US sanctions on Iran.

The foreign firm would present Pakistan’s demand for slashing the cost of imported gas to the Iranian authorities, a credible source said, citing a Petroleum Ministry officer.

The Iranian firm’s team would be visiting Pakistan the next week as the singing of the accord is yet to happen. The foreign company had expressed reservations over a few demands from Pakistan, the source added.

He said the two neighbouring states were committed to give a hopelessly pathetic shoulder to Uncle Sam’s pressure seeking to stop the project. The restlessness and confusion over Pakistan’s move in the crooked American corridors was evident the moment they sprang into action.

The project that will be completed by December 2014 will first bring 750 million cubic feet gas per day through 781-kilometre-long pipeline with a diameter of 42 inches, and later on, the gas flow will increase to 1 billion cubic feet per day. Cost of Iranian gas would stand at $13/mmbtu. The gasline agreement that would bring 750/mmbtu-imported gas to the country would be functional for 20 years and there would be a five-year extension. Tadbir Energy has shown its agreement to construct 2-kilometer-long pipeline inside Pakistan.

During the series of talks this week, the Inter-State Gas Systems and the Iranian firm reached on a unanimous consensus that state-owned SSGCL and SNGPL would initiate mechanical works while the FWO, a subsidiary of the armed forces, would carry out civil works of the project while laying the pipeline from Gabd to Nawabshah inside Pakistan.

“Cost of installing gas pipeline on a single kilometer and the interest rate have already been settled on the fourth day of the talks session,” a Petroleum Ministry official said, adding the cost would stand at Rs190milion and the interest rate 3 per cent on $500 million loan. Iran had demanded four per cent interest rate on $500million loan and Pakistan had bargained for three per cent interest rate over the committed loan.

The Iranian delegation was headed by the Tadbir Company deputy chief and Pakistan side by the Petroleum Ministry secretary. The managing director of the Inter-State Gas Systems and senior officials of the finance and law ministries were drawn as members of the Pakistani team.