By Sardar Khan Niazi
Pakistan on Wednesday signed a landmark 15-year agreement to import up to 3.75 million tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) a year from Qatar. The deal will go a long way in not only reducing Pakistan’s alarming energy shortfall but also provide a tremendous boost to the country’s economy.
The $16 billion deal was signed during the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s two-day visit to the State of Qatar on the invitations of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Emir of the State of Qatar, and His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al-Thani.
The deal would strengthen bilateral relations in diverse fields, reinvigorate the economy, resuscitate industry and enhance foreign reserves. The import of LNG under the agreement is expected to add at least 2,000 megawatts of gas-fired power-generating capacity. Furthermore it would improve production from fertilizer plants that are for now severely curtailed by lack of gas supply. The agreement under which the price of LNG is lower than that offered under comparable gas import options has been hailed around the world as one of the most cost effective deals for LNG.
The arrival of LNG in Pakistan under the deal will also directly benefit the common people as electricity bills are expected to come down because of cheap electricity produced by LNG. Supply to the fertilizer plants will help generate new employment opportunities and provide a tremendous boost to the agriculture sector.
The deal heralded as a success even by even the government’s most stern critics owes a lot to the unparalleled behind the scene work and vision of none other than Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s exceptionally brilliant daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif. Be it the ruling party’s media cell or the much appreciated education and health reforms initiated by the incumbent government, the Prime Minister’s daughter is the brain behind these hugely successful projects. Projects, which have not only been lauded by experts in respective fields but have also, received overwhelming support from the masses. Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi must also be applauded for his tireless efforts. Efforts, that resulted in Pakistan procuring one of the best LNG deals in the market.
Considering the benefits the deal is expected to bring to energy starved Pakistan, it is safe to say that it is no doubt one of the biggest achievements of the incumbent government and a historic moment in the country’s recent history. Congratulations are in order for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz Sharif and Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and for making this deal a reality.
*The author is Editor in Chief of Pakistan Group of Newspapers and Chairman of Roze News.