As India kowtows to USA, Pak inks $1.7-bn energy deal with Russia
For the first time, Pakistan and Russia have signed an energy deal worth $1.7 billion to lay a gas pipeline from Karachi to Lahore, a move that may lead to further improvement in their ties.
The supply of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) is expected to start before March next year, The Express Tribune reported.
The report cited unidentified officials saying the pipeline would be used to transport imported LNG from Karachi to Punjab province. The energy agreement was signed during the day-long visit of Sergei Shoigu last month, the first visit by a Russian Defence Minister to Pakistan in 45 years. The last visit to Pakistan was made by Soviet Union's defence minister Andrey Grechko.
During Shoigu's visit, Islamabad and Moscow also inked a defence and military cooperation deal.
It is the first time Pakistan and Russia have signed an energy pact decades after the recent deal to increase military cooperation. Pakistan, over the past few years, has carefully courted Russia to boost bilateral relations. Its former army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani visited Russia in 2009 and 2012. Earlier this year, Russia lifted arms sales embargo to Pakistan, and a "final go ahead" was given for the purchase of Russian MI-35 helicopter gunships.
Pakistan is currently working on two LNG pipelines as an alternative to the apparently doomed Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project, which included LNG Gwadar pipeline and south pipeline from Karachi to Lahore. The government has signed a deal with China to award $3 billion Gwader LNG pipeline and terminal project. Russia has helped Pakistan set up the Karachi Steel Mills and also supported the Oil and Gas Development Company Limited, which is still using old Russian machinery in exploring oil and gas.