Execution of pipeline project: Russia agrees to provide sanction free companies

Aftab Ahmed

Islamabad: Pakistan and Russian have agreed on a new structure of sanctions free Russian companies by making amendment in inter-governmental agreement (IGA) implement US$2 billion North South pipeline project.

Earlier, Russian had nominated RT Global and proposed TMK firm to make joint venture to execute North South pipeline project. However, these two Russian firms faced sanctions resulting in stalling pipeline project.

Since signing of inter-governmental deal in October 2015 to construct the North-South LNG pipeline, Pakistan and Russia had been making efforts to execute the project but could not move ahead due to sanctions imposed by United States (US) on Russian companies.

Pakistan had asked Russia to provide sanctions free structure of Russian companies to execute the project that would help to transport imported gas from Karachi to Lahore.

A Russian delegation headed by Russia’s Deputy Energy Minister, Anatoli Tikhinov held a bilateral meeting with Minister for Energy, Omar Ayub Khan and Nadeem Babar, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Petroleum here on Monday. The visiting delegation is here for the 7th JCC session on the North South Gas Pipeline.

Two sides agreed to sign a protocol to amend government to government agreement to change structure of Russian companies nominated by Russian government to provide sanctions free structure.

Russian agreed to replace the earlier proposed project company and assigned the project realization rights to the project company ‘North South Gas Pipeline (pvt) Limited’ a joint venture of LLC ‘Eurasian Pipeline Consortium’ and Federal State Unitary Enterprise (FSUE)’Centre of Operations Services’ of the ministry of Energy of Russian Federation.

According to a statement, while welcoming Mr Anatoli Tikhinov to Pakistan, Mr Omar Ayub Khan stressed on the need to make the North South Gas Pipeline Project transparent, financially viable and to the mutual benefit of both, Pakistan and Russia. He termed the project as a flagship project of cooperation between both the countries particularly in the commercial and energy sphere.

Mr Nadeem Babar gave an overview of Pakistan’s Energy situation highlighting the infrastructure projects the current Government plans to undertake to ensure supply/security of Oil-Gas in the country. He termed the North South Gas Pipeline as a stepping stone towards greater cooperation between Pakistan and Russia in the energy sector. He also welcomed Russian interest in the E and P sector of Pakistan including the Government’s planned auction of 18 blocks this month. The SAPM emphasized transparency, financial viability of the North South Gas Pipeline Project and shared Prime Minister Imran Khan’s desire to see the project’s successful execution.

Russia’s Deputy Minister thanked the Pakistani side for the gracious welcome given to him and his delegation. He, too, termed the North South Gas Pipeline Project as an important milestone in bilateral relations between both the countries and Russia’s desire to expand relations with Pakistan in all fields including Energy. He agreed that the project must be financially viable and to the benefit of both countries. The Minister hoped that such cooperation between both the countries shall continue in the coming time.

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