Pakistan can invite international sanctions upon itself if it goes ahead with the Iran gas pipeline project, Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said on Monday.
The warning came during a briefing by the minister to the Senate Standing Committee on Less Developed Areas. The committee headed by Mohammad Yousuf Badni convened in the parliament house.
Islamabad, according to the minister, is working towards implementation of the gas pipeline agreement with Tehran. But since Tehran is currently facing international sanctions the joint project has been mired in challenges.
Abbasi pointed out that Islamabad may also have to pay a fine of $3 million per day in case it does not meet clauses of the agreement. “We cannot rule out the possibility of any international restriction in case of implementation of the gas pipeline deal with Iran,” said Abbasi.
He said a meeting between Pakistan and Iranian ministers will be held in the near future where all such issues will be put on the agenda.
Gas load management
Talking about a gas load management plan during the winter season, he said, commercial consumers will not get gas in January and in December they will face serious shortages. “Only domestic consumers will be given priority in meeting the high demand of gas during the winter season,” said the minister.
Committee members pointed out that most areas that have natural gas reserves are themselves deprived of the facility of gas for consumption. There was a general consensus that this deprivation for the local population be rectified. “The federal government should provide special funds to provide basic facilities to the areas where there are huge natural resources,” said the committee chairman Yousuf Badni.
He said that authorities should take urgent steps to resolve the issues of the people of Balochistan including Noshki and Bolan, Sui and other far flung areas, where people lack the basic facilities.
He suggested that if the Sui Southern Gas Pipeline (SSGP) cannot provide gas to the far flung areas of Balochistan, then it should install LPG plants in all those areas to accommodate the public.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2013.