Balochistan Demands Share for IPI Gas Transit

A01688339.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Pakistan’s Balochistan has demanded its share in the transit fee for the part of the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline to be passed through the province, sources in Pakistan Petroleum Ministry said.

The demand was made during a top-level meeting on August 18, the Daily Times quoted the sources as saying.

Baloch leaders have for long accused the successive federal government of adopting a step-motherly treatment in allocating development funds for the area.

Of the 900-km IPI pipeline to be laid in Pakistan, 787 kms would be laid in Balochistan (and the rest in Sindh), provincial representatives said, and Balochistan’s share in the transit fee should be determined accordingly.

They also asked for the province’s representation in talks on the project with India and Iran, added the sources.

They added that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had directed the ministry to address Balochistan’s concerns and that the ministry had assured the provincial officials they would consider their demands.

Iran and Pakistan have initiated a Gas Sales Purchase Agreement. India and Pakistan have also resolved all bilateral issues including transit fee which saw New Delhi boycotting IPI pipeline talks for about a year.

India has more or less agreed to give Pakistan a transit fee of $200 million per year, which is equivalent to $0.60 per million British thermal unit for allowing passage of the pipeline through that country.

India and Pakistan finally agreed in February 2007 to pay Iran $4.93 per million British thermal units ($4.67/GJ) but some details relating to price adjustment remained open to further negotiation. There was a breakthrough in the talks in April 2008 when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Pakistan and India.

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

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

According to Indian ministry sources, the IPI gas pipeline is quite crucial for New Delhi as after signing of the agreement, 60 million standard cubic meters per day (mmscmd) of gas is expected to be supplied in phase-I, which will be shared equally between India and Pakistan.

In phase-II, 90 mmscmd of gas will be supplied to India and Pakistan. So far six meetings of the trilateral joint working group (JWG) of the participating countries have been held with the last meeting being held in New Delhi on June 28-29, 2007.

India, Asia’s third-largest economy, can produce only half the gas it needs to generate electricity, causing blackouts and curbing economic growth. Demand may more than double to 400 million cubic meters a day by 2025 if the economy grows at the projected rate of 7 to 8 percent a year, according to the Indian oil ministry.

Iran plans to start exporting gas to Pakistan in 2011. Iran has completed half the pipeline, which can carry 110 million cubic meters of gas a day, National Iranian Gas Company (NIOC) said in April. India uses about 108 million cubic meters of gas a day, according to a BP Plc report.

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