KARACHI - The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) has given approval for Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline project, costing $ 1.2 billion. It has been decided that the route of pipeline will be all the way through land from Balochistan to Nawabshah. The meeting of sub- committee of the ECC on Iran-Pakistan Gas pipeline was held in Karachi, which was chaired by Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Naveed Qamar. Federal Finance Minister, Shaukat Tarin, Chief Minister Balochistan Nawab Aslam Raisani, Provincial Finance Minister Balochistan Asim Kurd and other officials from the ministry of petroleum attended the meeting. The pipeline will travel via Balochistan to Kirthar, finally to reach Nawabshah, the hub from where the gas pipelines travel to the country. About 90 percent of the project is in Balochistan, said Qamar. The minister said the meeting had also discussed technical issues relating to the pipeline and decided that all the work including manufacturing of pipeline would be carried out locally. He added that all the local companies would be involved in the gas pipeline project. It includes Sui Northern Gas Company and Sui Southern Gas Company. No international consultancy will be hired for the project. However, the foreign consultants may only be consulted as per need of foreign consultancy that include procurement of machinery, plants and preparation of bankable documents, Qamar added. He said that the government was considering the possible financial plan for the project which included the raising of initial funding by the government of Pakistan and public sector. The 40 percent share in the project amount will be from the government, 40 percent from the private sector and 20 percent equity to be raised from stock market. Responding to a question, the minister said that the preferred model for the government would be a public private partnership for the project. India has withdrawn from the project by itself, but if it wants to join the project in future, a separate pipeline will be laid for this purpose. The tariff for gas supply will then be decided between India and Iran, he added. About the question on tariff of natural gas, minister responded that it has been settled between Pakistan and Iran. The minister however did not speak about the rates finalised between the two countries. To a query regarding the security concerns related to gas pipeline in Balochistan, Qamar said that the government would ensure protection of the pipeline with involvement of all the stakeholders. No comment was made by the minister about the schedule of the gas pipeline project between the two countries. It is pertinent to mention here that Iran will initially transfer 30 million cubic meters of gas per day to Pakistan, but the supply will eventually increase to 60 million cubic meters per day. Negotiations over the project were initiated in 1994 between the three countries - Iran, Pakistan and India - but there were obstacles in closing the three-way deal due to tension between India and Pakistan. Moreover, India has not participated in the last several rounds of talks. The IPI gas pipeline is a proposed 2,775-kilometer pipeline, which will deliver natural gas from Iran to Pakistan and India. The project is expected to be greatly beneficial for India and Pakistan, as these countries do not have sufficient natural gas to meet their rapidly increasing domestic demand for energy. An expert on energy sector said that Pakistan is facing serious energy crisis and is planning to generate 4,600 MWs of electricity with Iranian natural gas. Now, Pakistan is facing an electricity shortfall of more than 3,000 megawatts, leading to frequent and long blackouts in the country, however, it has been under pressure from Washington to abandon the deal. He added that the government would have to materialise this project at every cost, as its in the supreme national interest.