Iran working to renew gas pipeline interest

Iranian state media rolling out interviews suggesting renewed life for project.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   July 21, 2015 at 8:37 AM
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TEHRAN, July 21 (UPI) -- A project once dubbed the Peace Pipeline could see new life with Chinese and Indian investors working in a post-sanctions Iran, a Pakistani official said.

Salman Shah, a former Pakistani finance minister, told the official Islamic Republic News Agency he expected renewed interest in a gas pipeline running east from Iran.

"China and India will probably join the ... network," he was quoted as saying in a Tuesday interview. "Once the gas starts flowing, India will like to join it and China has already expressed its willingness for joining the project."

IRNA earlier this week quoted Pakistani Energy Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as saying last week's nuclear deal with Iran meant Islamabad had more options to address lingering energy needs.

Pakistan's aging infrastructure means the country lacks a reliable power sector. The Asian Development Bank in May announced Pakistan will get as much as $65 million in loans to help advance hydroelectric power as a buffer against its aging grid.

Pakistan last year moved away from the Iranian gas pipeline project, saying it was unable to generate revenue needed for the development of the project because of sanctions. India's role in the project, proposed in the 1990s, has remained in doubt in recent years.

Iran has said it has its end of the pipeline built up to the Pakistani border.

The ADB in the past has lent its support to the multilateral natural gas pipeline that would stretch from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Western powers lined up behind TAPI before last week's breakthrough nuclear deal.

"I think [the Iran-Pakistan] pipeline is more feasible than TAPI," Pakistan's former finance minister said.

The nuclear deal reached last week in Vienna could ease sanctions pressure targeting Iran's energy sector. The U.N. Security Council this week unanimously endorsed the deal, though U.S. aspects are subject to a 60-day review from a skeptical Congress.

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