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Govt urged to start work on Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline

The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Wednesday urged the government to start work on Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline and complete it as early as possible, according to a statement.

Irfan Qaiser Sheikh, president of the LCCI, said that the chamber has credible reports that the work on this multimillion dollar project is stalled for unknown reasons but is unable to understand the causes of the delay in this highly beneficial project of national importance when the gas pricing formula has already been agreed in 2009 and Tehran and Islamabad have also signed the final agreement to launch the project by Spring 2014.

The LCCI president said that the Iranian government has already completed its part of the project and if Pakistani authorities show some interest, the pipeline would complete much earlier than the stipulated period, which is the need of the hour, it said.

Sheikh said that the severest-ever shortage of gas in the country calls for extraordinary measures on war footings and the people sitting at the helm of affairs should gear up their efforts for the early completion of the project.

The government should also take the business community on board, in general, and the Lahore Chamber, in particular, on this project as the Punjab is the worst-hit.

There is no shortage in other provinces so that industrialists who are planning to shift their operations to other countries could be asked to shelve their plans, he said. There are a huge number of industries where gas is the basic raw material and due to its acute shortage there would be no work in these units, while the graph of unemployment would go up further, he said.

Sheikh said that if the federal government takes the private sector on board on this mega project it would not be adding any cost to it but definitely ensure its early completion.

The reports about suspension of work on Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline have sent a wrong signal to the private sector that needs to be corrected by restarting work on this project so that they could be able to do their businesses with a peace of mind, said Sheikh.

According to the project proposal, the pipeline will begin from Iran’s Assalouyeh Energy Zone in the south and stretch over 1,100km through Iran. In Pakistan, it will pass through Balochistan and Sindh but officials now said the route may be changed if China agrees.

The gas will be supplied from the South Pars field. The initial capacity of the pipeline will be 22 billion cubic metres of natural gas per annum, which is expected to be raised to 55 billion cubic metres. It is expected to cost $7.4 billion.

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