Iran is ready to finance a multi-billion dollar gas pipeline in Pakistan, which has been delayed for two years due to Western pressure.
"Financial difficulties and obstruction by some Western countries have slowed down the construction of the pipeline on Pakistani soil," the Fars news agency said today, quoting an "informed source."
"To speed up the progress, Iranian oil ministry officials have proposed that Iran is ready to invest in the construction of the pipeline inside Pakistan" in addition to the one inside Iran, it added.
In 2010, Pakistan and Iran signed a deal under which Tehran would supply natural gas to its eastern neighbour from 2014, with sales to reach 750 million cubic feet (21 million cubic metres) to one billion cubic feet per day by mid-2015.
The project envisaged a pipeline, 900 kilometres in length, be built from Assaluyeh in southern Iran to the border with Pakistan.
Another 800-km pipeline is also needed inside Pakistan to receive gas from Iran's South Pars field in the Gulf.
While Iran has almost completed work on its side of the border, the plans in Pakistan have run into difficulty over reluctance by investors who fear they could be hit by sanctions.
Pakistan insists the pipeline is vital to efforts in overcoming the energy crisis it faces, but the United States has expressed strong objections to the project. It is urging Islamabad to abandon it because of sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear programme.
Pakistan, which produces just 80 per cent of its own electricity needs, sees the USD 7.5 billion gas project as a partial answer to the crisis which has led to blackouts and has suffocated industry.
Iran, which has the world's second-largest gas reserves, is rapidly developing its production but can only export a small part of it due to lack of pipelines or liquefaction infrastructure.