News / Asia

    Pakistan Anticipates Putin Visit to Seal Pipeline Deal

    FILE - Men carry jerry cans as they walk along a pipeline in Karachi, Pakistan, on May 2014.
    FILE - Men carry jerry cans as they walk along a pipeline in Karachi, Pakistan, on May 2014.
    Ayesha Tanzeem

    Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit Pakistan in the coming months to inaugurate a gas pipeline project in which Russia will investing billions of dollars.

    Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif already has sent an invitation and Russia has shown willingness to send its head of state, according to Mobin Saulat, the CEO and managing director of Inter State Gas Systems, the Pakistani company handling the project.
    “Maybe before June,” Saulat said hopefully, referring to Putin's arrival.
    Saulat attributed Russian interest in this project to changing regional dynamics, both political and economic.
    “We are 200 million people. And we provide a gateway to other South Asian countries,” he said.

    Energy officials meet
    As a sign of Russian interest, he pointed out that Pakistani officials and energy experts, on a recent Moscow trip, were able to meet the heads of Russian energy giants Gazprom, Rostec, and Rosneft for the first time in more than two decades.
    Russia also wants to supply liquid natural gas to Pakistan. Saulat said in time Pakistan should expect to import 4 million tons per annum of LNG from Russia. Pakistan recently signed a deal with Qatar to provide a similar amount.  
    Economic incentives apart, both sides might have strategic and political motives for working together on this project.
    Pakistan has been trying to form new regional partnerships to diversify from its heavy reliance on the U.S. and China. Russia likely views the deal as an opportunity to expand its influence in key areas of South and Central Asia.
    “There’s a great deal of thinking that this has more geopolitical underpinnings rather than commercial ones,” said Khurram Hussain, a business and economy journalist, and a former Pakistan scholar at Washington-based think tank Woodrow Wilson Center.
    He sounded doubts, however, about the pace of the project.
    “I take agreements that have been signed in a veil of secrecy with a great deal of skepticism,” said Hussain, adding that if the government wanted to start the project in a few months, now would be the time to let analysts review the terms and conditions.

    FILE - A worker carries a cylinder of Liquified Petroleum Gas at a gas distribution center in Peshawar, Pakistan April 29, 2015.
    FILE - A worker carries a cylinder of Liquified Petroleum Gas at a gas distribution center in Peshawar, Pakistan April 29, 2015.

    Boosting Pakistan's economy
    He acknowledged that the deal, if it goes through, would be good for Pakistan.
    “Pakistan is in dire need for foreign investment in infrastructure and the only parties that are willing to step forward thus far have been other states, particularly China,” he said.
    While the current venture is a state-to-state project, it might give a signal to the private sector that Pakistan’s economy has powerful backers.
    Russia will spend from $2 billion to $2.5 billion, which is almost 85 percent of the cost of building the pipeline.
    The 1,100-kilometer-long structure will be able to transport 1.2 billion cubic feet of gas per day throughout Pakistan, from Karachi to Lahore. The first phase of the three-phase project is expected to come online in two years, with the final completion date scheduled for some time in 2019. LNG, from any country that comes to Karachi port will be re-gasified and sent through this pipeline to the north.
    In time, the pipeline will help replace the aging infrastructure currently used to transport gas within Pakistan.

    Russian involvement
    Pakistan initially approached China, Russia, and Qatar for the financing of the project and received favorable responses from all. In the end, the government opted for Russia in order to diversify its regional partnerships.
    Saulat said the Russians “immediately responded.” Russia already has sent teams to survey the route and is in the process of designing the project.
    Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and his Pakistani counterpart Shahid Khaqan Abbasi signed the agreement when Novak visited Islamabad in October.
    Saulat expects the deal to usher in a new era of Russian investment in Pakistan. “In the next few months you’ll see more and more Russian delegations coming in,” he said.

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    February 15, 2016 4:21 PM
    Pakistan's government can seal any deal it likes. That will not stop extremists from blowing it up as fast as it can be repaired. This is one of the many fatal flaws in this kind of deal and similar projects like China's silk road. However, not only are the projects themselves physically vulnerable, the customers are broke. They'll be lucky to pay $30 a barrel for oil let alone $100.
    In Response

    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    February 16, 2016 10:38 PM
    Nasir, I'm sitting here safe and sound in my house in rural New Jersey (born and raised in New York City) while you're in Pakistan and you say I'm the stupid one?

    To build a pipeline from Russia to Pakistan has to either cross through the Caucuses and Iran, through the former Central Asian SSRs and Afghanistan, or through Western China. There are lots of people on all those routes who'd be only too happy to do anything they could within their power to hurt Russia. What will Russia do, provide armed guards along the entire route 24 hours a day forever? How much more will it cost to build, protect, maintain, and repair the pipeline than they get for the fuel they are shipping? Looks like a really dumb investment to me.
    In Response

    by: Tariq Shah from: United States
    February 15, 2016 11:50 PM
    Hey Indian IT Coolie, at least be man enough to use your real name, Kumar or whatever it is. Dont worry about terrorism, both sides know what needs to be done, its not hard to repair a busted pipe, the locals will get needed jobs and move away from terrorism recruits, as for the price of oil, its less than $25 and dropping, lol....keep burning in jealousy.
    In Response

    by: Nasir from: Islamabad, Pakistan
    February 15, 2016 11:48 PM
    I am not surprised on the outright stupid comments that have been made above since Intelligence Quotient in the US, too, is declining as rapidly as the price of Oil.

    A scholar once said, "Do not comment on issues you have no command off and have not seen, if not heard, first hand."

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora