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Iran, Pakistan to set up refinery: Agreement signing this month

 

December 18, 2002-The Daily DAWN

 

By Aamir Shafaat Khan

Pakistan and Iran are setting up a joint venture refinery near Karachi, at Hub in Balochistan. An agreement in this regard is to be signed at the end of this month when Iranian President Mohammad Khatami visits Pakistan, authoritative sources told Dawn on Wednesday.

A draft of the proposed agreement has been reportedly prepared by the petroleum and natural resources ministry, which Pakistan's foreign ministry has dispatched to Tehran seeking Iranian foreign ministry's prior concurrence before being signed in presence of the top leaders of the two countries.

The visit will be a milestone in the brotherly relations of the two countries after an agreement by the two presidents is signed.

The project, which is now considered as economically viable, has been held in abeyance since 1998 due to lack of political will. However, work on the project can now be taken up at faster pace.

Before the visit of Khatami, a delegation of National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) was scheduled to arrive in Pakistan in the last week of November to review the current status of the refinery project with reference to the oil sector deregulation and tariff protection, in particular. The delegation could not come to Pakistan owing to Ramazan.

Officials of the NIOC and Pakistan's petroleum ministry had already held at least four meetings in Pakistan and Tehran to discuss the project.

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