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Pakistan-Iran-India talks on gas pipeline in January

KARACHI: Amanullah Khan Jadoon, the federal minister for petroleum and natural resources, said on Friday that the Prime Minister is due to visit Iran next month where final talks over the Pakistan-Iran-India gas pipeline project would be held.

“After that we expect some significant progress on the project,” he told reporters after attending a briefing on the performance of Shell Pakistan. “Discussion on the gas pipeline is one of the top agendas,” he said. “The Indian authorities also want the project materialised and their personnel would be here this month to hold further talks on the issue.”

He said all the three gas pipeline projects, involving other countries, are intact and experts assigned by the ministry are preparing feasibility reports for each one of them.

“Let me clear one thing...there is no rollback on any project as we are considering and following progress on all the three projects with Iran, Qatar and Turkmenistan,” he said in response to a query.

Pakistan and Iran in 2001 agreed on the construction of a multi-million dollar gas pipeline between the two countries, which would ultimately supply gas to India. But India’s security concerns are said to be the sole stumbling block to the proposed $3 billion Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline project, which, according to experts, is commercially viable.

Diesel imports: On the issue diesel imports from India, Mr Jadoon said after holding talks with the Indian petroleum authorities, now it is up to the commerce ministry to decide on the issue.

New Delhi last month formally offered diesel export to Pakistan from Gujarat and Haryana through land and sea routes by removing the product from the negative list of permissible imports from India.

Mr Jadoon said the government has decided to maintain oil prices at current levels on the back of a growing economy and there is no plan to increase the prices of petroleum products in the near future.

“Whatever the cost we have to pay, we will as there are clear directives from the prime minister to maintain oil prices,” he said and added that oil marketing companies are well aware of these orders from the premier.

Farooq Rehmatullah, managing director Shell Pakistan, said the government has borne a loss of Rs 7 billion on account of the price differential due to capped oil prices since May.

“These are the updated figures as calculated by the government functionaries,” he said. “It would definitely go up by each passing day.” He said the company has completed a seismic survey in the Indus basin to conduct offshore oil drilling and is preparing to sign an agreement with partners to start the project. “So we hope to sign an agreement with our partners in the next few weeks and start drilling in the first half of next year,” Mr Rehmatullah said.

He said the company has invested $500 million in the country and is committed to expand its operations as the government announced supportive and practical policies for oil marketing companies. —Staff Report

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