TEHRAN – Iran’s oil minister has rejected speculations that Iran would withdraw from gas deal with Pakistan.
Bijan Namdar Zanganeh told reporters that Iran was prepared to start its gas exports to Pakistan. “Pakistan has signed a deal to import 21.5 million cubic meters of natural gas daily from Iran and by the beginning of 2015, it should start receiving this amount of gas according to agreement,” he said. However, Pakistani officials had ascribed their failure in construction of even single cubic meters of gas pipeline in their soil to international sanctions, and according to provisions signed in the agreement, it would pay US$3 million to Iran in compensation for each day delay in its pipeline inauguration. Oil ministry officials still have not commented about Pakistani side’s claims. Amid uncertainties in construction of pipeline, experts from both sides have speculated that the gas deal would be suspended, which Zanganeh rejected, saying that Iran’s daily production of natural gas increased 100 million cubic meters, bordering 600 million cubic meters daily.
Oil minister emphasised that Iran was prepared to start gas experts to Pakistan; “the operation to construct pipeline to Pakistani borders approaches final stages, and whenever Pakistanis construct their domestic gas pipeline network, Iran would start gas delivery to eastern neighbour.”
On Pakistanis’ recent statements relating sanctions to gas agreement with Iran, Zanganeh told an Iranian news agency that the Islamic Republic of Iran had been committed to its obligations made in gas deal with Pakistan, and it expected Pakistan to remain committed to its obligations as well.
Staff Reporter adds from Karachi: Consul General of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Karachi, Mehdi Subhani said that the economic and trade relations between the two countries would further strengthen when next Joint Economic Commission meeting takes place in Islamabad.
He asked the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) to organise a trade delegation’s visit to Iran in order to further strengthen trade ties between the two countries and seek new avenues of enhanced cooperation, while speaking at meeting at KCCI.
“To help Pakistan resolve the ongoing energy crisis, we are ready to send gas to Pakistan by the end of this year, now it is up to Pakistan to decide whether they need Iranian gas or not”, he added.
The envoy added that Iranian Consulate will be extending full support to the proposed visit of KCCI delegation to Iran. “This delegation should be composed in such a manner that it covers various sectors, particularly the leather, textile, dairy products and confectionary items etc. Pakistan can make substantial profit by exporting these products to Iran”, he added.
He said that security, stability and prosperity of Pakistan and Iran are linked with each other as both countries share many similarities and possibilities. It is heartening to note that politicians of both countries have started displaying their willingness to expand ties in many fields which would help in boosting the existing relations between the two countries. Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline upon its completion will assist Pakistan in overcoming the energy crisis, trigger economic activities and generate massive employment opportunities all over the country, the Consul General opined. Referring to President KCCI’s concerns over rising smuggling on Pakistan-Iran border, Iranian CG said that both sides must sit together and come up with a mechanism to effectively curb smuggling and other issues hindering bilateral trade.
Earlier, President KCCI, Iftikhar Ahmed Vohra, said that bilateral trade relations between Pakistan and Iran are cordial and healthy. However, due to sanctions on Iran, State Bank of Pakistan has restricted Pakistani banks from accepting L/Cs opened by Iranian banks. As a result, goods are being re-exported through Dubai which raises the cost of doing business for Pakistani traders, he noted, adding that this was the reason why Pakistani businessmen and industrialists were reluctant to do business with Iran.