TEHRAN, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- An Iranian deputy energy minister said his government was recommending Pakistan look for a third party to help finance a natural gas pipeline from Iran.
"Iran's Petroleum Minister Bijan Zanganeh recommended Islamabad demand help from third-party companies for the completion and acceleration of the project on the Pakistani soil," Ali Majedi, a deputy petroleum minister in charge of international affairs, said.
He was quoted by The News International, a Pakistani newspaper, as saying Monday it was possible that some of those companies could buy natural gas from Iran and then sell it to Pakistan.
Iran last week backed out of a $500 million finance commitment to help Pakistan build the pipeline on its side of the border because of the sanctions constraints.
Pakistani Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said his government was still interested in the project, though it was unlikely to move ahead until sanctions on Iran are lifted, the newspaper reported.
Pakistan was slated to get 21 million cubic feet of natural gas per day from the Iranian pipeline.
The Pakistani government said the aging infrastructure in the country means it needs outside help to keep up with energy demand.
The U.S. government supports a rival pipeline that would deliver natural gas to Pakistan from Turkmenistan.