Five days after Nawaz Sharif was sworn in as Prime Minister, a delegation led by the joint secretary of the petroleum ministry is going to Lahore on Sunday to explore the feasibility of India supplying liquefied natural gas (LNG) to power starved Pakistan. The delegation consists of senior business development officials of Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL).
Top government sources said the Indian delegation was given a green signal after GAIL submitted a report on the possibility of supplying LNG to Pakistan via the Amritsar-Lahore route to national security adviser Shiv Shankar Menon in May.
India has been offering LNG to Pakistan for the past one year with Rajeev Mathur, GAIL’s general manager for business development, visiting Islamabad twice last year to meet the then Pakistani petroleum minister.
While New Delhi is also keen to help Pakistan by supplying electricity through 500 MW capacity transmission line via the same Amritsar-Lahore route, its priority is gas supply as some 40 km of pipelines could be laid across the border within next 10 months.
“We want to help Pakistan in its hour of power crisis as it will help lowering of hostility against India particularly in Punjab province, which is the hub of pan-Islamist terrorist groups,” said a senior South Block official.
Official sources said according to plans, the existing GAIL’s Dahej-Nangal-Jullandar gas pipeline will be extended to Lahore via Amritsar to supply gas as much as five million cubic metres daily.
New Delhi wants to help Pakistan by supplying Qatari LNG at cost plus charges for tapping in Lahore. Petronet-LNG Limited JV imports Qatari gas at Dahej terminal and pumps it into the network after costly regasification.
According to senior officials, the Indian gas could feed into the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited network at Lahore for supplies to the entire country.
“If the LNG project goes through, then the same cross-border pipeline would be used by India for connecting to Turkmenistan gas via the Afghanistan-Pakistan route in the future and build confidence between the two countries,” said a senior official.