ISLAMABAD

Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has reiterated that construction of Gwader to Nawabshah gas pipeline, the main part of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, would start within six months and complete by December 2017, report IRNA.

In an exclusive interview with Iranian News Agency (IRNA), Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that the 700-kilometer pipeline would carry Iranian gas once completed and a well-reputed Chinese company was going to build the project.

"Sanctions are still in place and investors are worried that even after removal of sanctions, still there is possibility of sanctions coming back because of different legal issues", he said. "But we are working on it. There is no serious problem and we are going ahead with the pipeline from Gwader to Nawabshah", he remarked. As soon as the sanctions are lifted, he said construction of Iran-Gwader portion of the pipeline would start by Pakistani companies.

He added that "the design is ready and we just need to order the equipment to complete the project".

Khaqan Abbasi future noted that the IP is not the "alterative strategy. It's one of the main strategies of Pakistan to import natural gas to fulfill parts of its growing energy demands. "We are pursuing two more options to import natural gas including LNG imports from different countries and TAPI pipeline project", he remarked. "We have requested a meeting with Iranian oil minister to inform him about the latest IP developments. We are also looking for more cooperation in post-sanctions era with Iran. Holding a meeting with Iranian oil minister at this time is important."

As for the price of the Iranian natural gas, the official said, “Based on the IP contract, the basic price is agreed but it was also agreed that one year before the first gas flow, the two parties will sit together and negotiate the final price based upon the market realities.”

"This particular 42-inch pipeline is already dedicated to Pakistan and there is no room for other countries to join or rejoin the project. It doesn't have enough capacity for the additional countries to get the Iranian gas. If India or China express willingness to join the pipeline, then new parallel pipelines need to be built," he added. The Minister added that the government of Turkmenistan taken the responsibility for building the TAPI and developing the gas field.

"Afghanistan is part of TAPI pipeline route and security issues of this country have always been a concern. Meanwhile, cost of the pipeline is a major concern", he remarked. Responding to question on Pakistan energy cooperation with Russia, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said, 'The agreement for 1,100 km north-south gas pipeline (Karachi-Lahore) is almost negotiated between Russia and Pakistan.

"The project will be done on BOT (Built-operate transfer) basis. The negotiations are underway and once they are finalized, we will go ahead with the project. Nothing has been signed yet. This is on BOT basis and we have nothing to invest in the project." Once completed, Iranian natural gas or imported LNG will travel in the South-North pipeline.

"Most of our gas demand is in north of the country so we need this pipeline to carry imported gas from Iran, Turkmenistan or any other country to Punjab province", the minister added.