Report: Saudi bailout of Pakistan energy sector likely

May 23, 2013 at 1:21 AM
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ISLAMABAD, May 23 (UPI) -- Pakistan may get a bailout worth up to $15 billion from Saudi Arabia for its troubled energy sector, a Pakistani official told Dawn newspaper.

The Saudi assistance could consist of supplies of crude and furnace oil on deferred payment at a time when Pakistan's energy sector faces a host of financial and other problems, resulting in constant load shedding or rolling blackouts.

The report said Saudi Arabia appears pleased that Pakistan will now have an "amiable" civilian government led by Prime Minister-to-be Nawaz Sharif, whose Pakistan Muslim League party, PML-N won an impressive victory in the May 11 general elections. It will be the first time in Pakistan's 66-year-old history when there will be democratically elected leadership change without a military takeover.

Dawn's source said the Saudis are taking interest in helping out the incoming Sharif government.

The report said Pakistan received similar help from the Saudis in 1998 when it came under international sanctions for conducting nuclear tests. The Saudi deferred payments package then was later converted into grant, the report said.

The official told Dawn the Pakistani Foreign Office had briefed the Saudi ambassador on the country's energy requirements immediately after the May 11 elections.

Pakistan expects about 100,000 barrels of crude oil and about 15,000 tons of furnace oil a day from Saudi Arabia on deferred payment for three years, valued up to $15 billion, the report said.

The Saudi deal would help Pakistan cut down on load shedding and to restructure its power sector by reducing subsidies, eliminating circular debt, cutting down system losses and making it self-sustaining, the report said. It may also allow the PML-N government to develop hydropower projects through a combination of public and private investments, the official told Dawn.

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