ISLAMABAD - Iran Pakistan gas pipeline ‘Peace Pipeline’ is the most feasible of all the projects and the government should start work on it immediately, as it is cheapest and cleanest alternative to the imported expensive LNG, imported coal and furnace oil, official source told The Nation.

The commissioning of the Iran Pakistan gas pipeline also dubbed as “Peace Pipeline” will end reliance on the, most expensive fuel in power sector, furnace oil and will silence various camps currently lobbying for the import of oil and coal, an expert of the Planning Commission said on the condition of the anonymity.

Besides, the pipeline will also reduce the importance of the imported coal which the country was planning to import in desperation to meet acute energy shortage. If clean fuel is easily available why one will consider the import of dirty fuel (coal), which is hard to transport, environmentally hazardous and with fluctuating prices, the expert said.

The US-Iran deal has created a hope for Pakistan to quench its thirst for the cheap energy and the government is required to fully and immediately exploit the situations, emerged of Iran nuclear deal. After the indigenous energy resources, the official said, the Iranian gas pipeline is the second priority. “Half of our natural gas deficit of 1500 mmcfd will be filled with the construction of Iran Pakistan gas pipeline which will transport 750 mmcfd” the official maintained adding that he doesn’t believe on the shortage figure of 2000 mmcfd figure as it seems too exaggerated.

Natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel and is being used throughout the world to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Compared to coal, natural gas produces far fewer carbon dioxide emissions and sulfur emissions.

Similarly on the LNG side the starting of work on Iran Pakistan gas pipeline will provide an upper hand to Pakistan in its price negotiations of LNG with Qatar or any other country of the world,” the official maintained. Now the government should public the prices of LNG, as we will still need LNG import but on Pakistan’s terms, the expert maintained adding that Pakistan is a huge market for the gas but we need to avoid long term and expensive agreement for the LNG import.

Pakistan was planning to import 500 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) of LNG from Qatar which will ultimately reach to 2000 mmcfd in coming three years, but after the IP commissioning the country will have a shortage of 750 mmcfd of gas so we only need to import one-third of the earlier planned import, the expert said.

The federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resource has earlier told the Senate Special committee that Pakistan has never stopped work on Iran Pakistan pipeline and work from the Gwadar side have already started. “Connection of the pipeline with Iran is our international commitment and we have to fulfill it” the minister said adding that Pakistan never stopped work on this project but sanctions against Iran were a major hurdle in its execution.

Work on the pipeline was supposed to have completed by December 2014, was halted under intense US pressure. As an alternative plan, it was decided that a 700 km LNG pipeline from Gwadar would be laid to connect it to the main natural gas pipeline at Nawabshah. A LNG terminal has been proposed at Gwadar. The Gwadar-Nawabshah pipeline would also be ultimately extended by 71 kilometers towards the Iranian border for transportation of gas. According to Minister of Petroleum Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the two projects are expected to have a cost of Rs 1000 billion.

First conceived over 20 years ago, the 1682km pipeline will transport gas from Iran to Pakistan and China is currently financing the construction of a gas pipeline from Nawabshah to Gwadar.

Once that is built, Pakistan has reportedly agreed to finance the project. The pipeline, to be completed in two years, would eventually supply Pakistan with enough gas, 750 mmcfd, to fuel 4,500 megawatts of electricity generation, which is country’s current electricity shortfall.

Under the IP contract, Pakistan is bound to pay a penalty as it failed to complete the construction of its portion of the pipeline by December 31 2014. But Iran tacitly agreed to the alternative plan, of constructing Gwadar-Nawabshah pipeline, and has not yet pressed any late fees on Pakistan. Iran has already completed the 900 km section of the pipeline on its territory.

Now Pakistan needs to accelerate work on the project as earlier due to sanction no international lender was ready to fund the project but now the scenario has totally changed and beside China other countries and institutions will be ready to provide the money for the early completion of the project, the expert maintained.