PAKISTAN and Russia on Wednesday signed an inter corporate agreement for the laying of more than 1,500 km offshore gas pipeline costing $10 billion that would be transporting natural gas from the Russian gas company Gazprom’s sources in the Middle East to Pakistan with possibility of extending it further to South Asian countries. Pakistan will import some 500 million to one billion cubic feet of gas per day (MMCFD) from these Russian sources, which would be transported via sea link, the agreement stipulates. The pipeline construction is expected to be completed in three to four years.
Russia has long been expressing its willingness to invest in both bilateral and regional energy corridors but unfortunately we have not been able to realize such offers because of various reasons including lack of required interest on the part of the institutions and departments concerned. The latest agreement augurs well as it comes at a time when Pakistan was facing acute shortage of gas despite import of LNG from Qatar and other sources. Import of up to one billion cubic feet of gas per day would alleviate sufferings of gas consumers and along with execution of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project the energy crisis would hopefully be addressed to a great extent. However, much depends on the actual pace of progress as in the first phase a feasibility study would be carried out. It is important to note that the proposed pipeline would be offshore and not dependent like TAPI on security situation in troubled Afghanistan. Its passage through Gwadar would also complement efforts for operationalization of the deep sea port by way of provision of required infrastructure and facilities while its possible extension to other regional countries would increase inter-dependability, which is always helpful in maintaining peace and security. It would also place Pakistan on the world map as transit country for offshore gas pipelines and could help attract more investment from other sources as well in the sector. Russian pipeline would be an integrated plan as it would also include Under Ground Gas storage, desalination and other power projects, generating a lot of economic activity besides ensuring sustainable provision of gas through storage.