From the moment that the U.S. re-imposed sanctions in earnest on Iran late last year, Pakistan has been looking at ways to resuscitate a deal that had been agreed in principle before the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) last May. This deal involved moving as much gas as Pakistan needs from Iran’s Asalouyeh into Pakistan’s Gwadar and then on to Nawabshah for further transit if required. At the same time, China has been in long-running discussions with Pakistan over the specific projects that Beijing wanted to place in Pakistan as part of its ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) programme. All the while, the U.S. has been trying to stymie any such arrangement but OilPrice.com understands that the Iran-China-Pakistan deal is now back on, and with a vengeance.
China’s covert strategic deals are virtually always buried in interminably long anodyne statements that belie the true laser-focused intentions of Beijing and this time is no different. Joint statements just over a week ago from both Pakistan and China sides laid out four projects that are part of a ‘broader co-operation’ between China and Pakistan. They all sound relatively run-of-the-mill affairs, although still major undertakings, and are: the upgrading of the Pakistan Refinery Karachi, the building out of a coal to liquid engineering plant based on Thar coal at Thar Sindh, the utilisation of Thar Block VI for coal gasification and fertiliser projects, and the finalisation of the feasibility study on South-North Gas Pipeline Project that traverses Pakistan…[more].