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Pricing haunts IPI pipeline plans

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Officials may scrap the planned Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline if the parties cannot agree to a price mechanism with Iran, a Pakistani committee said.

"We fear that the IPI project will be dropped if we don't reach an early agreement over the gas price with Iran," said Sen. Talha Mahmoud, chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Petroleum.

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Asim Hussain, the top energy adviser to Pakistan, told lawmakers he would send another delegation to Iran in February to broker an agreement. Hussain secured approval from top Pakistani officials on IPI following a December meeting in Tehran.

He cautioned the project faces difficulties as the Indian side is pulling away from the plans, but added Pakistan remained interested.

Talks on IPI limped along for decades over a variety of disputes, ranging from security concerns in Pakistan to price mechanisms with Iran.

Iran shifted its position several times on the agreement, moving from a mechanism that pegs the gas price at 44 percent of crude averages to a 78 percent parity. Pakistan said it would seek a price that is 60 percent that of crude averages.

The proposed 1,724-mile pipeline would have an initial estimated capacity of 3.8 billion cubic feet of gas per day.

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