Pak to seek Russian funds for gas pipeline project

Last Updated: Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 22:30

Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday said it would
explore the possibility of getting Russian funding for a
multi-billion dollar gas pipeline project with Iran after a
leading Chinese bank backed out of the venture over fears of
sanctions imposed by Western countries.

"Pakistan`s technical delegation will visit Moscow early
next month to have discussions on this subject," Foreign
Office spokesman Abdul Basit told a weekly news briefing in
response to a question about funding for the Iran-Pakistan
pipeline project.

The Pakistani team will hold talks with various officials
and different companies, including Russian gas giant Gazprom,
Basit said.

Pakistan was forced to look for alternative sources of
funding after a consortium led by the Industrial and
Commercial Bank of China failed to sign an agreement to
provide financial advisory services for Pakistan`s share of
the 1.5-billion dollar project.

Sources said the consortium`s decision was influenced by
fears over sanctions imposed on Iran for its nuclear
programme.

The US has asked Pakistan to abandon the project but
Pakistani leaders, including President Asif Ali Zardari, have
signalled that they intend to go ahead with the pipeline as it
is vital for overcoming a crippling energy crisis.

Pakistan and Iran signed a deal in 2010 whereby Tehran
will supply gas to Islamabad from 2014, with sales to reach
750 million cubic feet to one billion cubic feet a day by
mid-2015.

Pakistan, which produces just 80 per cent of its own
electricity needs, is currently grappling with prolonged power
cuts that have angered the public and affected industrial
output.

In response to a separate question about the tension
surrounding North Korea`s nuclear programme, Basit said
Pakistan supports the six-party talks on the issue.
He hoped all sides would refrain from taking any action
that undermines the dialogue process.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 22:30

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