Pakistan seeks Russian LNG – official
Pakistan’s ambassador to Russia, Shafqat Ali Khan, said on Monday that his country is “highly interested in LNG supplies” from Russia, adding that Moscow and Islamabad are in talks on the matter.
With its own reserves declining but gas still figuring heavily in its energy mix, Pakistan is facing a major supply problem. The ambassador told the news agency TASS that pipeline gas supplies are what could meet the country’s demand and solve its energy shortage. However, because the necessary infrastructure is not yet in place, he stressed that “our immediate needs are related to LNG [supplies].”
Analysts point out that rising global prices for LNG have exacerbated Pakistan’s energy security problems and created financial challenges for the government, households, businesses, and industry. Imports of the fuel have become five to ten times more expensive than domestically produced gas.
Moreover, there is currently no long-term LNG supplier to Pakistan and spare supply in the market is scarce given the increased demand from the EU, which is struggling to move away from Russian energy. This puts Pakistan on the brink of an acute energy shortage in the coming years.
In the interview, Ali Khan also emphasized that Western sanctions would not hamper economic relations between Moscow and Islamabad, adding that “we will try to bypass sanctions where they create problems.”
In September, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that his country would “further expand and strengthen cooperation between the two countries across all areas of mutual benefit,” including the long-delayed North-South gas pipeline project.
Russia and Pakistan agreed in 2015 to build a 1,100-km-long pipeline to deliver imported LNG from Karachi on the Arabian Sea coast to power plants in the northeastern province of Punjab.
Speaking at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in September, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that pipeline gas supplies to Pakistan were possible and that part of the infrastructure is already in place.
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