After fuel, India is now offering to export natural gas to Pakistan to help the neighbouring country tide over its gas crisis, the Press Trust of India has reported on Wednesday.
State-owned GAIL’s newly-commissioned gas pipeline from India’s west coast to Bhatinda in Punjab is barely 25 kilometres away from the Pakistan border and the gas utility is proposing the line can be extended to Lahore in no time, sources privy to the development said.
GAIL plans to import LNG at the Dahej or Hazira import terminals in Gujarat. It then plans to move this gas through Dahej, Vijaipur, Dadri, Bawana, Nangal, Bhatinda pipeline to Punjab and then into Pakistan.
But before a formal proposal is made to Pakistan, it needs the blessing of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, sources said. Unlike India, Pakistan has not built a LNG import terminal yet, and so buying gas from the GAIL pipeline may make economic sense for Islamabad, the report said.
A LNG terminal will take a minimum of four years to build while GAIL pipeline can be expanded into Lahore within months. India had previously offered to sell petrol, diesel, jet fuel (ATF) and fuel oil to Pakistan and had planned to build pipelines to transport products but Islamabad has not yet responded to the proposal.
Furthermore, GAIL’s Dabhol plant in Maharasthra will go on stream next week. Dabhol, too, is connected to the pipeline at Dahej, and any LNG imported at the terminal can also find its way into Pakistan, sources said.
Pakistan and India are pursuing gas imports from Iran and Turkmenistan, but multi-billion dollar transnational pipelines that are to transport the fuel are yet to be laid.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 22nd, 2012.