TEHRAN, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- The managing director of the National Iranian Gas Co. said it should take less than two years to build a natural gas pipeline through Pakistan.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari arrived Wednesday in Iran to discuss economic cooperation. Pakistan's Dawn newspaper said a bilateral natural gas pipeline is expected to top the agenda.
Plans for a natural gas pipeline from Iran's South Pars natural gas field to Pakistan, and potentially India, were launched in the 1990s. An industry source told Dawn on condition of anonymity that Tehran is expected to loan $500 million to Pakistan to help facilitate the project's development.
"The peace pipeline is expected to be constructed in 22 months on the Pakistani soil with the participation of Iran," Javad Owji, managing director of NIGC, was quoted by Iran's state-funded broadcaster Press TV as saying.
Iranian and Pakistani companies signed agreements this month to start work on the Pakistani section of a pipeline.
A rival natural gas pipeline planned from Turkmenistan is favored by Washington over Iran's plans to build its pipeline. Pakistani officials, however, have shrugged off concerns about the project in favor of addressing a lingering energy crisis.