AFP: Iran and Pakistan have finalised a contract for a multi-billion-dollar gas export deal scheduled to be signed within a month, the Iranian oil ministry’s news service Shana on Saturday. TEHRAN (AFP) Iran and Pakistan have finalised a contract for a multi-billion-dollar gas export deal scheduled to be signed within a month, the Iranian oil ministry’s news service Shana on Saturday.
“The content of the Peace Pipeline contract has been finalised and all the points prepared by the two sides’ legal experts have been re-read and agreed by the two sides,” Iran’s deputy minister in charge of the project, Hojatollah Ghanimifard, was quoted as saying.
“The remaining points which are technical issues… must be studied within a month to make the contract ready for the simultaneous signing by the heads of the two countries,” Ghanimifard said.
Tehran and Islamabad have neared a conclusion to the contract in the absence of India, a potential party to the deal.
Talks on the 7.4-billion-dollar project to supply gas to India through a 2,600-kilometre (1,615-mile) pipeline began in 1994 but were stalled by tensions between India and Pakistan.
Talks resumed early in 2004 along with peace moves between India and Pakistan but dragged because of New Delhi’s opposition to periodic price reviews.
An early October agreement between Iran and Pakistan marked a breakthrough in the long-lasting talks when they agreed to a periodic revision of gas prices every three years instead of a long-term fixed price.
The pricing formula, pushed by Iran, will be flexible based on the international market situation.
India has come under US pressure to pull out of the project, as part of Washington’s drive to sanction Iran for its refusal to bow to international demands to suspend its nuclear programme.
Iran has said it is determined to push ahead with the plan to pipe gas to India via Pakistan but that a major sticking point has been over how much New Delhi should pay Pakistan in transit fees.
Tehran vowed to quote India the same fees as those it offered Pakistan.
“The conditions of a contract with India will be exactly the same as with Pakistan. If the Indians are not too late, based on the current market conditions, the price terms will not change,” Ghanimifard said.
The project is slated to be commissioned by the end of 2013.
Ghanimifard stressed that Iran has not received any official statement from India indicating that it has withdrawn from the project.
In late September, Indian oil ministry officials said New Delhi was committed to the project despite failing to join discussions in Tehran and Islamabad.
India, which imports more than 70 percent of its energy needs, has been racing to secure new supplies of oil and gas besides ramping up production from domestic sources to sustain economic growth.
If India joins the project, Pakistan, with a growing energy consumption market, will both receive gas and be paid by India for the transportation and transit fees.
Iran has the world’s second largest gas reserves after Russia but has remained a relatively minor player in the global export market due to high domestic consumption and untapped gas reserves.