$3.2b Gulf-South Asia Pipeline project: Qatar minister arrives Tuesday, will discuss gas pipeline
* Pakistan asked to play middleman in Qatar-India gas deal
By Khalid Mustafa
ISLAMABAD: Abdullah bin Hamad, Qatar’s second deputy prime minister and energy minister, will arrive in Pakistan on Tuesday to discuss the $3.2 billion Gulf-South Asia Pipeline (GUSA) project.
The Qatari minister will meet President Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Petroleum Minister Amanullah Khan Jadoon.
Both countries will discuss the modus operandi for laying the pipeline. Pakistan is considering importing gas from Turkmenistan, Iran and Qatar. The prime minister is scheduled to visit Iran by the end of February to discuss gas imports from Iran. India has also shown its willingness to negotiate its involvement in the three projects with Pakistan. The Turkmen oil minister is due in March to discuss the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan gas pipeline.
The total length of the proposed GUSA pipeline is 1,186 kilometres, with one intermediate compressor station at Diba in UAE. The initial gas flow would be 1,600 million cubic feet per day (MMscf) and the delivery point in Pakistan is Jiwani near Gwadar.
Sources said Qatar’s prime minister asked Pakistan some time ago to act as middleman by purchasing gas from Qatar and selling it in the Indian market.
The Sharjah-based Crescent Petroleum submitted a draft agreement to Islamabad in July last year for a 1,610 km offshore pipeline along the Iran-Pakistan coastline up to Jiwani, near Karachi, to transport 1.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas with an off take of 1,000 MMcfd from 2005 onwards.
Qatar, host to one of the largest US-Army positioning bases in the world, possesses the third largest natural gas reserves in the world, after Russia and Iran. It aims to become a major petroleum player in the coming decade with prospects of becoming the world’s richest nation in per-capita gross domestic product.
Qatar has also offered oil supplies to Pakistan as it wants to diversify its sources for security reasons. The Qatari minister will be discussing various options on that account with his Pakistani counterpart and Petroleum Ministry officials, sources said. An official said recent gas market studies had revealed that Pakistan would need to import up to 2.5 billion cubic feet per day by 2015 and by 2020, gas import quantities would escalate to around four billion cubic feet a day. The official said that if the project were undertaken, it would start delivering gas to Pakistan after four years.