Pakistan, Malaysia expected to finalise LNG supply deal

Agreement may be inked during Malaysian premier’s visit to Pakistan next month

Zafar Bhutta February 15, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Malaysia are likely to finalise a multibillion-dollar liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply deal in a government-to-government arrangement during the upcoming visit of Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohammad.

At present, 200 million cubic feet of LNG per day (mmcfd) is being handled by the second LNG terminal at Port Qasim, following short and long-term agreements with Gunvor and Eni respectively. As the capacity utilisation was far lower than the terminal’s capacity, the Cabinet Committee on Energy on Wednesday directed the Petroleum Division to arrange more gas imports in order to fully utilise the capacity of 750 mmcfd.

During Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian premier discussed prospects of the LNG supply agreement. The two countries had already signed the Inter-governmental Agreement on LNG in November 2017. Malaysian energy firm Petronas offered LNG supply, but the agreement was delayed due to change of government.

Pakistan wants to export skilled and semi-skilled manpower to Malaysia, particularly in the information technology sector and for industrial-scale manufacturing in the field of electronics. Pakistan has also sought Malaysian investment in its oil and gas sector.

“The Malaysian premier will arrive on March 23 and several investment agreements are likely to be inked during his trip,” Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Deputy Secretary Information Chaudhry Hamid said while talking to The Express Tribune. He said the PTI government had restored the confidence of investors in Pakistan due to improvement in security situation, therefore, investors were coming to explore investment opportunities.

He pointed out that billions of dollars of investment agreements would also be inked during the upcoming visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

“Investment by Saudi Arabia is an indicator for the rest of the world that Pakistan is an ideal destination for investment in different sectors,” he emphasised, adding that Saudi Arabia would inject money into the areas of oil, minerals, renewable energy and industry.

He said many countries were eyeing Pakistan for investment, adding that after the Saudi crown prince’s trip to Pakistan, the Malaysian prime minister would arrive next month. He stressed that without a bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), different countries trusted the PTI as the government had taken several measures to stabilise the economy over the past six months.

He revealed that Pakistan had become a hub of foreign investment as around 72 foreign companies had contacted the Board of Investment (BOI) for pouring capital into the country. Recalling that the government had announced a housing scheme to provide affordable homes to people, Hamid pointed out that the government was finalising a mechanism to pave the way for investors to participate in the project. “Many overseas investors are interested in executing such projects,” he said.

He also said overseas Pakistanis were taking interest in buying Pakistan Banao Certificates, adding that through the bond, the overseas Pakistanis were shifting their investments to their home country.

“There is another incentive for the overseas Pakistanis. If they buy the bond and come to Pakistan, they can get cash in Pakistani rupees,” he suggested.

Hamid said the certificates reflected the government’s commitment to ensure that development financing was diversified and made sustainable in the long-term interest of the country.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2019.

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