Pakistan and Russia signed an agreement to build $2 billion pipeline that will transport gas from the city of Karachi in southern Sindh to Lahore in the central Punjab province, helping to mitigate shortages in northern parts of the country.
The agreement was signed during the first visit by a Russian Energy Minister to Pakistan in three decades, and marks a new beginning in commercial ties between the two countries who were on the opposite sides of the Cold War divide.
The gas pipeline accord comes after a landmark defense deal, the two countries signed in August for the sale of Russian-made Mi-35 ‘Hind E’ attack helicopters to Pakistan. The two countries are also discussing delivery of Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets, English-language Dawn reported.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who said the growing cooperation between Pakistan and Russia would help a great deal in meeting Pakistan’s energy requirements.
The two sides also explore possibilities of greater Russian investment in Pakistan’s Oil and Gas sector. The North-South Gas Pipeline will have an additional capacity of transporting LNG from Karachi, which Pakistan is importing from Qatar to meet shortages.
The 1,100 kilometer pipeline is expected to be completed by 2018.
Pakistan and Russian have been exploring opportunities to boost their commercial and trade ties as Pakistan is looking to tap Russian market to take advantage of the vacuum created after Moscow banned food imports from European countries in retaliation for sanctions imposed over its actions in Ukraine.
The North-South gas pipeline with a capacity of 12.4 billion cubic meter per annum will connect the LNG terminal in Karachi to those in Lahore.
The project will generate orders for Russian industrial enterprises and will open-up a new market for Russian companies in Pakistan.
Currently, RT-Global Resources is conducting surveys and engineering work along the pipeline route. According to Andrei Korobov, general director of RT-Global Resources, the project’s implementation will imply maximum involvement of Russian producers and contractors.