Iran emerges with claim of Pakistani pipeline interest

China said to be interested in helping build Iranian gas line to its eastern neighbor.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Nov. 4, 2016 at 8:15 AM
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TEHRAN, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Iran once again suggested it was moving forward on plans to build a long-delayed natural gas pipeline to Pakistan, this time with the help of China.

An interview published by the official Islamic Republic News Agency quotes Mobin Saulat, named as a managing director for a Pakistani interstate gas system, as saying China is ready to lend a hand in the building what's left of the pipeline.

"As the hurdles in the project are removed we will start receiving gas from Iran," he said.

According to IRNA, a pipeline bureau of a Chinese oil company is investing $1.4 billion in regional terminals for liquefied natural gas and could help financing construction of the Iranian pipeline across the border.

Islamabad has worked with its counterparts in China on the construction of a liquefied natural gas terminal and associated pipeline infrastructure at the port city of Gwadar near the Iranian border. The facility, the country's first, went into service in May 2015.

Pakistan consumes most of the natural gas it produces and the country has faced chronic energy shortages.

Oliver Coleman, deputy head of Asia programs at analytical firm Verisk Maplecroft, said last year that while both sides of the pipeline have lauded its benefits, it won't address the long-term issue completely.

Even if the pipeline is completed in Pakistan, Coleman said national distribution networks likely wouldn't be able to handle the additional volumes of natural gas coming from Iran.

Pakistan shied away from the Iranian gas pipeline project two years ago, 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.

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