Russia plans to invest USD 14 bn in Pakistan's energy sector

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Islamabad: Cash-strapped Pakistan is set to receive an integrated Russian investment package of USD 14 billion for the country's energy sector, including offshore gas pipeline and underground storage projects, a media report said on Thursday. 

A Russian delegation headed by Gazprom Management Committee Deputy Chairman Vitaly A Markelov pledged to make the investment during a recent visit to Pakistan, the Express Tribune reported.

The Russian companies would build a gas pipeline from Karachi to Lahore to transport imported gas for meeting the needs of the Punjab province.

Out of the USD14 billion, Russians would invest around USD 10 billion in an offshore gas pipeline project, USD 2.5 billion in the North-South pipeline project and the remaining on building underground storages in Pakistan, the report said.

Pakistan and Russian state-run entities on Wednesday signed inter corporate agreement to conduct a feasibility study of the USD10-billion offshore pipeline project.

The planned massive Russian investment in Pakistan is coming at a time when bilateral relations between Moscow and Islamabad were warming up. 

Pakistan's ties with Russia have moved past the bitter Cold War hostilities and the chill in the US-Pakistan relations has further pushed the country towards Russia and China.

Under this project, Russian company, Gazprom, will conduct feasibility steady to build offshore pipeline from Iran to Pakistan, according to the report.

Pakistan's Minister for Petroleum Division, Ghulam Sarwar Khan, appreciated the expanding trajectory of bilateral relations between Russia and Pakistan and welcomed Gazprom's interest in off-shore gas pipeline project and termed it a manifestation of multifaceted cooperation between the two countries.

The pipeline construction is expected to be completed in three to four years. Inter State Gas Systems (ISGS) Managing Director Mobin Saulat and Markelov signed the agreement.

Under the deal, Russia will export 500 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) to one billion cubic feet per day gas to meet the growing demand of gas following industrialisation under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

A feasibility study would be conducted by Gazprom at its own cost with no financial implications on Pakistan. 

Russia holds huge gas deposits in Iran and has offered Pakistan and India gas exports by laying an offshore pipeline that will pass through the strategic Gwadar Port on the Arabian sea.

Russia has been a big gas exporter to the European Union countries and Turkey since long and despite US anger, the European bloc has continued to make imports to meet its domestic needs. 

Moscow receives gas from Turkmenistan and then exports it to EU states. It has got and managed gas deposits in Iran as well and is looking to gain foothold in the Pakistani market, the report said.

Certain economic benefits such as transit fee would accrue to Pakistan if the project is implemented, the report said.

Pakistan will import some 500 million to 1 billion cubic feet of gas from Russia daily, which would be transported through sea link, the agreement says.

The pipeline would follow an integrated approach including other ancillary projects such as underground gas storage, desalination and other power projects.

Moreover, the project would bring Pakistan on the world map as the transit country for offshore gas pipelines, the report said.

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