Oil and Gas Pipeline Watch

By DANIEL GRAEBER, UPI Correspondent

The Pakistani government is ignoring warnings from Washington and moving ahead with talks with Tehran on the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline, officials said.

Pakistani energy officials and top envoys said they would travel to Tehran for a two-day summit Sept. 27 to discuss moving ahead with the project as soon as possible, The Pakistani Business Recorder reported.


Pakistan is facing a spiraling energy crisis, with reserves nearing exhaustion as demand continues to grow, prompting Islamabad to look to shore up its energy supplies quickly.

The officials noted the IPI pipeline, planned to deliver natural gas from the Iranian South Pars gas field to Central Asia, is a project that could satisfy regional energy demands in the shortest period of time. Pakistan will relay its urgency to Tehran in hopes of securing a timeline for implementation of pipeline construction.

Washington has expressed its displeasure with Pakistan's approach to the pipeline as U.S. officials do not approve of any economic incentive to Iran as punishment for its controversial nuclear program. U.S. energy officials told Islamabad the IPI pipeline was unacceptable to Washington.


U.S. energy officials said Pakistan should instead look for alternative sources for cheap energy, making the IPI project subject to U.S. foreign policy, the report said.

A spokesman for the German government said it would formally support the Nord Stream gas pipeline despite warnings from the United States.

Nord Stream is a planned natural gas pipeline through the Black Sea from Russia to Germany. The majority shareholder is Russian energy giant Gazprom, with the German Wintershall owning a 20 percent stake in the pipeline consortium.

Germany last week lodged a formal complaint with the U.S. Embassy in Beirut after U.S. Ambassador to Sweden Michael Wood urged Stockholm to take a "hard look" at the Nord Stream project. Berlin says the statement amounted to interference in the internal affairs of Germany.

"We have made it clear that we support this project for political reasons," spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said in The Moscow Times.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week lent her support for the Nord Stream pipeline.

The Austrian government needs to expedite its ratification of formal contracts for the Nabucco gas pipeline or face a possible gas shortage, Iran said.

Iranian Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari told Austrian officials Tehran would look for other energy partners if it did not move on the Nabucco pipeline soon, telling Vienna to "hurry up and turn the preliminary contracts into actual contracts," The Asian News International network reported.


Nozari noted the climate was conducive to moving on any deals with Iran as Tehran has signed a record number of deals with countries such as Venezuela and Switzerland.

In 2007 Iran signed a deal with Austrian energy firm OMV to develop gas reserves in the country, which could boast as much as 16 percent of the world reserves, ANI said.

Nabucco is a planned natural gas pipeline that uses Austria as a major energy hub to supply European markets. OMV is one of the six partners in the Nabucco project.

The United States, however, has cautioned any country against making deals with Tehran because of tensions between the two countries.

Meanwhile, Hungarian officials are expected to hold talks with Turkish energy officials to push the plans through for Nabucco, but analysts say the conflict between Russia and Georgia has made the project a geopolitical risk.

Several major pipeline arteries run through the Caucasus region, and the August conflict disrupted the flow of oil and gas through several major routes.

Mihaly Bayer, the Hungarian ambassador-at-large for the Nabucco pipeline, will meet with Turkish energy officials and members of the Turkish state-owned pipeline company BOTAS to express support for moving the project forward, the Turkish Daily News reported.


The meeting comes ahead of a Nabucco summit scheduled for January in Budapest that includes possible members of the pipeline, including Austria, Azerbaijan and Georgia as a transit country.

The possible suppliers and hosts for Nabucco, which is intended to relieve European energy dependence on Russia, fear any move that may provoke the ire of Moscow could threaten regional gas supplies.

Construction on Nabucco is scheduled to start in 2009.



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