Russia mulls LNG option for Pakistan

Pakistan's first liquefied natural gas facility, near the border with Iran, went into service two years ago.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Feb. 20, 2018 at 8:37 AM
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Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Russia could help improve energy security for Pakistan through the delivery of liquefied natural gas, the Russian foreign minister said Tuesday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke Tuesday with his Pakistani counterpart, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, about the potential to improve energy ties. Among the priorities would be the construction of a gas pipeline from Karachi to Lahore.

"Other options are also examined, including deliveries of liquefied natural gas to Pakistan by Gazprom," Russia's minister was quoted by news agency Tass as saying.

Lavrov noted that Pakistan is ripe for Russian energy investments because of historical ties to the region.

Pakistan consumes most of the natural gas it produces and the country has faced power issues because of aging infrastructure. According to the Asian Development Bank, Pakistan's power sector has a gap between supply and demand of about 5,000 megawatts, which has put significant pressure on the prospects for economic growth.

The ADB described the status of the energy sector in Pakistan as "crippling." Russia, meanwhile, is one of the world's leading natural gas producers, extending its reach into Asia and the European economies.

In November, Austrian energy company OMV started producing gas for Pakistan, years after the initial discovery and as the country copes with chronic energy issues. With about 27 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, Pakistan has enough on hand to address demand for about 20 years.

Europe is looking at LNG as an alternate form of energy as it tries to break Russia's grip on its energy sector. Most of the gas that Russia sends to the European market runs through Soviet-era pipelines in Ukraine, where geopolitical tensions create energy sector risks.

The super-cooled form of gas, which offers more options for delivery than piped gas, has been on the Russian radar for Pakistan for at least two years. Islamabad has worked with its counterparts in China on the construction of an LNG 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.

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