The nuclear agreement between the United States and Iran and the peace talks in Afghanistan can give a serious boost to the gas highways projects linking Central Asia to the Middle East via Pakistan.
“This is good news for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, elected in 2013 on a promise to end the energy crisis”, noted a report published by the Belgian Radio RTBF on its website.
According to the report, in 2013, the IP (Iran-Pakistan) giant pipeline project between Iran, and Pakistan had been inaugurated but Pakistan has not yet built its portion of the $ 7.5 billion projects, explaining that US and European sanctions prevented to raise capital for the construction.
Teheran has already completed its portion of the 1800 km pipeline to connect its gas field South Pars to Nawabshah, near the large port of Karachi in southern Pakistan, the report mentioned.
Now as part of its ambitious economic corridor of $ 46 billion to link western China to the Middle East via Pakistan, China recently launched the construction of a gas pipeline to precisely Nawabshah.
Upon completion of this pipeline, Pakistan will only have to extend the pipeline with 80 kilometers west to gain Iran, the report said and added the Russian embassy in Islamabad has expressed interest to support the IP gas pipeline.
Historically close to India; Russia looks indeed more to Islamabad now that Delhi has strengthened its cooperation with the United States, the report said.
During the past year, Islamabad and Moscow signed a military cooperation agreement; paving the way for the purchase of Russian combat helicopters. Pakistan receives in return help to reduce its energy deficit, the report added.
The two countries will also finalize an agreement for the construction of gas pipeline linking Karachi to Lahore, the report quoted Mobin Saulat, CEO of Inter State Gas Systems as saying.
“The next step is the IP pipeline,” he said, adding that another project of regional gas highway, TAPI, “will come last.”
According to the report, the TAPI must connect the gas fields of Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India via an Afghan region. The French Total is tipped to lead the TAPI project, the report added.