Russia said Friday it had reached "conceptual agreements" with Pakistan on the supply of crude oil and petroleum products, noting the two sides also agreed the payments will be made in "currencies of friendly countries."
Visiting Russian Energy Minister Nikolay Shulginov made the announcement at a news conference in Islamabad following meetings with his Pakistani counterparts at an annual intergovernmental commission on bilateral trade and economic issues.
"We have already decided to draft an agreement to sort out all the issues that we have with regard to transportation, insurance, payments and volumes. These issues are in the final stage of the agreement," said Shulginov.
"We have already established a timeline of this agreement by the end of March," the Russian minister added. "And we have agreed that the payments will be made in the currencies of friendly countries," he said without elaborating.
Oil and energy account for the largest portion of Pakistan's imports and the country is currently facing a severe balance of payments crisis. Islamabad's foreign exchange reserves have lately depleted to about $4.6 billion, barely enough to cover three weeks of imports — mostly for oil.
"Both sides agreed that after consensus on the technical specification achieved, the oil and gas trade transactions will be structured in a way it has mutual benefit for both countries," according to a joint statement issued Friday after the commission's meetings.
Pakistan has also been unable to procure liquified natural gas, or LNG, from the international market to meet domestic needs because spot prices remain out of their range.
Islamabad has been trying to purchase LNG from Moscow, but Shulginov said Friday that Russia couldn't supply the product on short-term deals.
"The LNG volumes in Russia are mostly committed to long-term contracts," he said. "We have decided that it would be a good idea for Pakistan to approach Gazprom and Novatek, [Russia's] two largest LNG-producing companies in late 2023 to discuss the conditions when they have spare capacities."
Pakistan has traditionally not been a major importer of Russian oil. Most of its oil supplies come from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Pakistan's junior oil minister, Musadik Malik, was quoted by Russian and local media on Friday as saying that his country annually purchases about 70 million barrels of crude oil and would like to import 35% of it from Russia.