Iran - Pakistan Gas Pipeline Victim of U.S. - Iran Confrontation

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Iran - Pakistan Gas Pipeline Victim of U.S. - Iran Confrontation

Wed, 07/10/2019 - 13:16
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MZinchenko / Shutterstock
MZinchenko / Shutterstock

For years Pakistan has been negotiating with its regional neighbor Iran about importing Iranian natural gas.  Seeking to bolster its energy security by cutting a deal with its energy - rich next door neighbor, planning in Islamabad was in full swing.  But the US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, otherwise known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, in 2015, and the subsequent rise in tensions throughout the Persian Gulf, has pushed any thought of an Iranian - Pakistani gas pipeline far from the front burner.

Great powers like China and Russia have offered their own solutions to easing tensions and resurrecting some form of the Iranian - Pakistani pipeline.  The Chinese, for example,proposed connecting an 80km pipeline from Gwadar in Balochistan to the Iranian border if the US sanctions were lifted. “Now, the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) is still interested in initiating work on this project,” an official said, adding that this is the only option that is available with Pakistan and Iran to implement the gas pipeline project.  For its part, Russia sought to divert the gas allocated for the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project to an offshore pipeline project being planned by Gazprom. The Russian firm is conducting a study to build an offshore pipeline project from Iran to India passing through Gwadar.  Yet the American threat to impose sanctions on any company doing business with Iran has effectively stymied all development of an Iranian pipeline to Pakistan -- at least for the moment.

Officials with the federal Petroleum Division said that Iranian team was scheduled to visit Pakistan on June 19, and these two options would be discussed. During the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Iran in April, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took up the matter with the Pakistani side, and officials of two sides had also held a meeting on this project. Iran had also offered Pakistan the opportunity to implement the project through a ‘third party’. However, nothing came out of these meetings.

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