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Russia agrees to extend help for laying IP gas pipeline

In a positive development, Russia has agreed to extend financial and technical assistance to Pakistan for laying a 786km gas pipeline from the Iranian border to Nawabshah.

Moscow showed its willingness during the first day of two-day Pak-Russia energy talks that were held here on Wednesday. Yury Sentyurin, deputy minister for energy of the Russian federation led the 12-member Russian delegation. Ejaz Chaudhary, secretary petroleum and natural resources headed the Pakistani side.

According to the officials who attended the meeting, Gazprom has withdrawn from participating in the mega project but another Russian company – PJSC – has shown willingness to provide technical and financial assistance for the project. Both sides have decided that Islamabad will prepare a draft agreement that will soon be sent to Russia.

The authorities in Moscow, the official said, would examine the draft agreement and then decide about extending financial and technical assistance to Pakistan for the project. At the same time Russia has repeated its demand of putting aside the PPRA rules and has sought direct contract of the project.

Iran is willing not only to provide $500 million for the project it also agreed to provide 786 km pipeline, gas compressors and block valves. But Pakistan is wooing China and Russia to play their role in constructing the pipeline to increase the scope of ownership of the pipeline to reduce the pressure of international economic curbs.

China, which earlier backtracked from being the financial adviser, has shown willingness to become EPCC (Engineering Procurement Construction and Commissioning) contractor during the recent visit of President Asif Zaradri to Beijing.

During the talks held here on Wednesday, Russia has also shown interest in participating in the TAPI gas pipeline project. The official also told that Mascow has also shown keen interest in development of Thar coal and installing coal-based power plants. Russia also wants to extended technical assistance for Thar coal area development.The next Pak-Russia joint working group meeting would be held in 2013 in Moscow.

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