Pakistan-Russia formal talks on oil, LNG imports soon

Tanveer Malik
Thursday, Nov 24, 2022

KARACHI: Pakistan would enter into formal negotiations with Russia to seek oil and LNG for the country after Moscow invited Islamabad to hold a meeting in this regard by the end of the month.

Pakistan also received a green signal from the United States a few days ago when its embassy in Islamabad informed the Pakistan Foreign Office about the consent of the coalition group to cap Russian oil, The News learnt on Wednesday.

In this regard, a two-member delegation of Pakistan would visit Moscow from Nov 29-30. The delegation would include State Minister for Petroleum Division Dr. Musadik Malik and Capt (retd) Muhammad Mahmood, Additional Secretary (In-charge), Petroleum Division.

The import of Russian oil and gas has been a much-talked-about subject in Pakistan since the ouster of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government, when former prime minister Imran Khan claimed to have achieved a breakthrough during his visit to Moscow in February 2022. Later, he accused the present rulers of backtracking from it under the influence of the US, which opposed it after Russia invaded Ukraine.

According to official documents, the work started for talks on Russian oil and gas after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif met with Russian President Putin in Samarkand on the sidelines of the SCO summit in September this year.

As a follow-up, Dr Malik approached the Russian minister of energy and expressed the desire of Pakistan to enter into an arrangement with the Russian authorities for importing two to three LNG cargoes per month in the immediate future as well as on a long-term basis.

The letter written by the state minister’s Petroleum Division in the middle of October this year received a response from the Russian energy minister and the Russian Embassy in Pakistan.

In a forwarded communication to Dr. Malik, the Russian authorities proposed the minister to hold a meeting in Moscow with representatives of Russian companies to discuss the issue of LNG supplies to Pakistan.

The documents revealed that Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also informed the government about its correspondence with the US Embassy in Pakistan. The US Embassy informed the Foreign Affairs Ministry that coalition groups, including the US, G7, EU, and Australia have agreed to finalise the cap on Russian oil, which would benefit oil importers from Russia. Pakistan could also take advantage of this development.

Pakistan termed the positive response from the Russian side encouraging in the light of prevailing tight market for LNG, the cap on Russian oil and Pakistan’s rising energy demand.

Following the receipt of a positive response from Russia, the prime minister proposed to send a two-member delegation to Moscow for two days, according to the official letter.