Pakistani officials highlight need to complete IP gas pipeline

By Sara Rajabova

Pakistani officials have emphasized the need to complete the long-delayed Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project.

A top Pakistani authority has urged the government to complete the IP gas pipeline project to resolve the country's energy crisis.

Zubair Ahmed Malik, the president of the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) said the Pakistani government needs to initiate serious efforts on all fronts, so that long-delayed gas pipeline project and Kalabagh Dam (KBD) could be constructed; otherwise, energy security in Pakistan will remain a pipedream, Press TV reported.

Pakistan is the only country whose power plants are working on natural gas despite the country's deficiency, Malik added.

He emphasized that the future of Pakistan is tied to Iranian gas and KBD.

"We should stop digging own grave before it is too late," Malik said.

Sartaj Aziz, who advises Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on foreign affairs and national security, said in mid-December Tehran and Islamabad were in talks over an extension of the December 2014 deadline for the construction of the pipeline as well as financing the project and gas pricing.

According to the original agreement sealed between Iran and Pakistan, the first Iranian gas delivery to Pakistan should start by December 31, 2014.

The two countries are also responsible for the completion of the pipeline project within their territories, and if Pakistan does not fulfill its obligation to complete the pipeline on its side by the end of 2014, it will have to pay a daily penalty of $ 1 million to Iran until the project is completed.

However, Iran has agreed not to penalize Pakistan for missing the deadline.

The United States has long been threatening Pakistan with economic sanctions if Islamabad goes ahead with the pipeline project.

However, the government of Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif has made it clear that addressing the country's longstanding energy problems will be its top priority, and it has no plans to reverse the decision on the completion of IP pipeline.

The IP pipeline will see 21.5 million cubic meters (mcm) per day of Iranian natural gas exported to Pakistan.

The multi-billion-dollar pipeline is designed to help Pakistan overcome its growing energy needs at a time when the country of over 180 million people is grappling with serious energy shortages.

Iran has already constructed more than 900 kilometers of the pipeline on its soil.

The final construction phase of the pipeline was inaugurated on March 11.

The 2,700-kilometer-long pipeline will start from Iran's Assalouyeh Energy Zone in the south and stretch over 1,100 kilometers through Iran. The joint multi-billion-dollar pipeline is designed to help Pakistan meet its growing energy needs at a time when the country of over 180 million people is grappling with serious energy shortages.