China keen on piped Saudi gas via Qatar

Islamabad, September 4 :

Energy-starved China is exploring ways to tap Saudi Arabian gas through a tie up with Gulf-South Asia (GUSA) Gas Company of Qatar that already has a joint venture for a deep sea pipeline with Pakistan.

Once gas from the ‘Pak-Qatar’ pipeline reaches Gwadar on the Balochistan coast where Beijing has already invested heavily in a port and a military base, the Chinese want to move the gas along the Indus river by a land route across the Karakorum Highway via a ‘white oil pipeline’ feeding its energy grid. China has accelerated its effort in this direction after its earlier interest in joining the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) gas pipeline diminished. While the first pipeline is bogged down due to global politics, Beijing is not too keen on the TAP line due to security considerations. Quoting unnamed sources, The Nation newspaper reported that a formal agreement or memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Pakistan and China could be sign-ed during the visit of the Chinese president Hu Jintao in November. A technical delegation from China is expected next month to study the possibilities of cost sharing over the two proposed trans-national high cost projects. The GUSA Gas Company has already done spadework on the Pak-Qatar gas pipeline. However, progress on the prospective pipeline from Qatar to Gwadar on the Balochistan coast has remained slow due to high costs of the deep-sea construction.

As an alternative, Chinese are exploring the feasibility of routing the proposed oil and gas pipelines from their origins in Qatar and Saudi Arabia to Oman as overland facilities.

From Oman to Gwadar, both the oil and gas pipes would be laid side-by-side across the deep-sea.