Russian state-owned construction company Rostekh Corporation is planning to build a 680-mile gas pipeline in Pakistan in 2017 at an estimated cost of $2.5bn, Russian media report.
It will be Russia’s first big project in Pakistan since the 1970s, according to state-owned Russia Beyond the Headlines.
Rostekh Corporation will construct the pipeline, and will seek both Russian and foreign financing, although attracting credit from western banks will be difficult because the company is subject to US and European sanctions.
Pipes for another of Russia’s planned pipeline schemes, South Stream (South Stream Transport BV)
"Moscow needs to hurry in order not to give the Pakistani market to China," said chief scientific collaborator at the RAS Institute of Middle East Studies, Vladimir Moskalenko, according to the report.
An unnamed government official told business daily Kommersant that it is geopolitically important for Russia to strengthen its position in Pakistan, including in the gas transportation sector, since in the future the country may become a fundamental route for transit gas to India.
But another expert warned that the Pakistan pipeline may backfire on Russia.
Partner at Rusenergy, Mikhail Krutikhin, told Gazeta.ru that, "in essence, the gas pipeline that Russia will build will become a part of the future gas route from Iran to China."
"Participating in the Pakistani project is not to Russia’s advantage," Krutikhin said. "Supplies from Iran will reduce China’s dependence on gas, including gas from Russia."