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The Nation

Published Date: Nov 13, 2013

Iranian gas can meet growing energy needs

Pakistan’s growing energy needs can substantially be met through import
of gas from Iran through Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project. However,
there is a need to re-evaluate the gas pricing mechanism for the
purpose. 
This was stated by Dr Abid Suleri, Executive Director,
Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) at a press conference
held here at SDPI office on the Tuesday. The press conference came as a
follow-up to the recent statement by Hamid Raza, Managing Director of
National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), suggesting that the gas price has
not yet been fixed and can be changed.
With regards to the
government’s fear of sanctions being imposed on the country if Pakistan
is to sign a deal on import of gas from Iran, Dr. Suleri pointed out
that Iran is already exporting gas to other countries including Turkey
and Armenia. Answering questions from media representatives, he further
added that funding options for the project would be more secure if a
sovereign bilateral agreement is reached and signed between Iran and
Pakistan. Pakistan can also explore the option of exporting wheat to
Iran in exchange for gas from the latter. On concerns regarding India
blocking an Iran-Pakistan gas deal, he said that India is an emerging
economy with higher energy needs; if a gas pipeline materialises between
Iran and Pakistan, it can also be extended to India in future.
Arshad
Abbasi, at SDPI, said that SDPI’s study on the Iran-Pakistan gas
pipeline has played an important role in generating a policy debate on
the issue. He added that the report was reviewed by independent experts
and requested all concerned stakeholders, including government,
academia, media and intelligentsia to come forward and contribute
towards a policy framework particularly in the context of Pakistan’s
pressing energy needs. He further emphasised the need to de-link the
price of gas from that of oil in international markets, particularly
considering Iran’s willingness to reconsider gas pricing for Pakistan.
Shaukat
Hameed Khan, VC Center for CASE, said that drilling options have still
not been fully explored and utilised in Pakistan. This is all the more
important in so far as off-shore drilling is concerned. The number of
wells drilled in the country is already too low, despite Pakistan’s
persistent energy crisis. He called for reform not only in the OGDCL but
also in the OGRA in Pakistan. He also opined that the IP project can
generate economic activity in the less privileged areas of Balochistan.
Saad
Saleem, Managing Director NayaTel, observed that there was need to
dispel the notion that energy prices are completely linked with
international oil prices, which, in turn are linked with movements in
the US dollar.
Given security and other complications that can
emerge with the execution of a gas pipeline project between Iran and
Pakistan, the latter can also consider overhead lines for import of
electricity itself to meet domestic needs.