Islamabad, Aug 24, IRNA – Setting aside fierce US opposition to the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project, in a strategic move, the pipeline may be stretched and connected to western China as Islamabad and Beijing have made it part of the planned economic corridor, a media report said on Saturday.
‘Express Tribune’ reported that the prospects have emerged that China will join the project and receive gas from the pipeline that will connect Iran, Pakistan and China.
According to sources, Pakistani and Chinese officials will discuss the laying of the gas pipeline from Gwadar to western China in a meeting to be held here on August 26. They will also take up a proposal about constructing an oil pipeline between the two countries.
The two sides will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the economic corridor, which had already been approved by the cabinet.
The upcoming dialogue is a follow-up to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to China in the first week of July. During the trip, Chinese companies expressed interest in laying the gas pipeline from the Gwadar Port to western China. Iran has also expressed interest in stretching the pipeline to China.
As part of the economic corridor, Gwadar Port will be connected through road and rail links to China which will help enhance trade between the two countries. Oil and gas pipelines will feature in the economic corridor, providing much-needed boost to economic activities in insurgency-hit Balochistan.
The US is pressing Pakistan to shelve the IP pipeline and rather focus on the TAPI gas pipeline which will start from Turkmenistan and reach India through war-torn Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Iran has already committed $500 million for financing Pakistan’s side of the pipeline. Total cost of pipeline construction in Pakistan has been estimated at $1.5 billion. To cover part of the cost, the government will award a contract for engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) to Iranian firm Tadbir Energy.
Under the project, Pakistan will import 750 million cubic feet of gas per day (mmcfd) with an option to increase it to one billion cubic feet. Of the import, the Balochistan government seeks to consume 250 mmcfd at the Gwadar Port, which may encourage the central government to purchase more from Iran to meet needs of the least developed province.
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