- Inter-ministerial meeting is expected to be held in Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on Monday (today) to discuss different aspects of the proposal
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif-led coalition government has reportedly started weighing the possibility of importing oil and gas from Russia to meet the country’s energy requirements, well informed sources told Business Recorder.
The move from the incumbent government comes after harsh criticism from the main opposition party, PTI, which attributes its “ouster” from power due to the visit of its leader, former prime minister Imran Khan to Russia, on the eve of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, roundly denounced by the West.
Former prime minister Imran Khan and his cabinet colleagues including former energy minister, Hammad Azhar and finance minister, Senator Shaukat Tarin claim that their administration was ready to purchase oil at 30 percent cheaper rates compared to other suppliers, like India, and are raising concerns as to why the incumbent government is not following suit.
Former Minister for Energy, Hammad Azhar has shared a letter he wrote to Minister for Energy of Russia Nikolai Shulginov on March 30, 2020 for supply of oil and LNG to Pakistan.
To start with he proposed supply by Russia of two to three cargoes of LNG per month on G2G basis, each cargo containing 140,000 cubic meters (+/- 2 per cent) LNG, energy content of one cargo being 3,200,000 MMBTUs (+/-5 %). He further contended that Russia began offering discounted oil mid-March and the government immediately started talks with the Russians on the subject. On March 29, 2022 Pakistan Ambassador in Moscow informed the Minister that the Russians wanted a letter in writing and on March 30, 2022 the requested letter was delivered. “Now why have you (Miftah) waited for 50 days doing nothing,” Azhar asked.
On May 26, 2022, Azhar tweeted that Dr Miftah is claiming on national television that no letter or proof exists of Pakistan government’s engagement with Russia on oil/ LNG imports, and who he should speak to. Russia was enthusiastic on selling discounted oil to us and he should have spoken to Energy Minister of Russia.
Dr Miftah Ismail, in his response to Hammad Azhar said “Bhai please listen to my interview again. I did say your government wrote a letter. But I said no response ever came. I didn’t say that you waited more than a month after IK’s visit to write the letter & then too when you knew you’d lose the VNC & that it was only done for politics.”
Russian diplomats based in Pakistan denied any knowledge of supply of oil or gas to Pakistan by their government.
However, now the incumbent government has begun weighing the possibility of import of oil and LNG from Russia.
“Prime Minister has desired that the Foreign Secretary, in consultation with the relevant Ministries/ Divisions/ Departments, conduct a comprehensive examination of the proposal, as to whether the purchase of oil and gas from Russia would be in our interest, both from economic and political aspects. A detailed report has been sought covering technical, legal and political of the proposal,” the sources quoted Ministry of Foreign Affairs as saying in its correspondence to relevant stakeholders.
The sources said, an inter-ministerial meeting is expected to be held in Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on Monday (today) to discuss different aspects of the proposal.
Secretary Ministry of Commerce, Sualeh Ahmed Faruqui, Secretary Petroleum, Ali Raza Bhutta, Secretary Finance, Hamed Yaqoob Sheikh, Secretary Law, Raja Naeem Akbar, a representative of Attorney General for Pakistan have been invited to the meeting.
Meanwhile, second inter-ministerial meeting regarding follow-up on implementation of the decision taken during the 7th session of Pakistan-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation is scheduled to be held on Monday (today) in which the issue of procurement of oil and gas from Russia is also likely to be discussed.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022