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February 12, 2019

Jang Group and BYCO seminar: Rs1,113 bn freight corridor to connect Karachi, Qasim ports

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February 12, 2019

ISLAMABAD: To mitigate the challenge of congestion at ports and ensure free flow of trade, the government is planning to build a freight corridor for inter-connecting Karachi Port and Port Qasim, for which a feasibility study would be initiated next month.

This project would cost more than $8 billion (Rs1,113 billion). Besides, to address the congestion issues at these ports and make the trade of goods easy, the government is also working on a plan to connect them with the railway line. For providing this connectivity, the government has started studying it. Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Haider Zaidi said this at a daylong international conference tiled ‘Pak Oil & Gas, Igniting Growth’ jointly organised by the BYCO Petroleum and Jang Group of Newspapers here Monday.

“We have an MoU with the Chinese state-owned corporation to build a freight corridor connecting the two ports and in the next month or so we will start feasibility on this project. We would not need to hit the land however we would get various exit points to connect all the industrial areas to the freight corridor,” the minister said.

Regarding the proposed project, he said that the government is in discussion and the MoU has to be vetted by the Law Ministry and few others and it was in the process. “It would be built in four years, with billions of dollars investment. Once the project is materialised, it would change the trade scenario on the ports. It would make trade easy, less time consuming and very less congestion at the ports. It would also help in removing congestion and roads blockages in Karachi,” he said.

The minister said Pakistan is the land of opportunities, it doesn’t need debt, but investment. “The recent MoUs and LoIs always talk about investment on the build, operate and transfer basis and not on debt,” he said.

After the minister’s address, a panel discussion was held among Ambassador of Turkmenistan to Pakistan Atadjan Movlamov, Deputy Head of Mission UAE Abdul Aziz Al Neyadi, Ambassador of Italy Stefano Pontecorvo and Ambassador of Azerbaijan Ali Alizada on the oil and gas sector of Pakistan and its opportunities. A question was placed before them that what opportunities they see in Pakistan especially in the oil and gas sector.

Ali Alizada said he has already put forward suggestions to Pakistan and these are under process. “We hope that the new government would finalise it. Pakistan is dependent on imported oil and gas, so market has to diversify and it has to present possibilities for other countries to increase investment in this country. Azerbaijan is also interested in investing in this country’s oil and gas sector. We offer oil and oil products at deferred payment to Pakistan which is under discussion and we are waiting for government for formalising it,” he said.

Atadjan Movlamov said that TAPI gas pipeline project is under construction “Besides there is another project under process which is Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan power transmission line. We want to have good trade and investment relations in every sector,” he said.

Stefano Pontecorvo said ENI (Italian E&P company) has been here when everybody left. “We brought Exxon Mobil to Pakistan, and most part of the money is of ENI in the recent offshore drilling project in Karachi. ENI is certainly willing to invest. Our companies are also interested in LNG business in Pakistan,” he said.

He added, “One of our companies is interested in investing low BTU gas, as it is cheap source of energy and as Pakistan is full of this source. We are really encouraged of steps taken by the Pakistani government. Your new government needs some time to materialise projects.”

Abdul Aziz Al Neyadi said oil on deferred payment to Pakistan has been committed to help it in this tough time. “We are willing to invest in Pakistan, especially in the oil and gas sector. Between Pakistan and the UAE, things are further improving. We are also encouraging our companies to come into Pakistan and invest here,” he said.

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