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Russian delegation to arrive in Pakistan tomorrow for talks on oil, gas deal

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  • Russian delegation comprises 80 members. 
  • Team to arrive in Pakistan on January 17. 
  • Both sides to deliberate settlement of Pakistan’s debt to Russia.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is set to to hold bilateral talks with a Russian delegation, arriving tomorrow, on an oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade deal for a long-term basis and the much-touted flagship $3 billion Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline (PSGP) project, The News reported Monday citing senior officials of the Energy Ministry.

The delegation, comprising 80 members, will arrive in Pakistan on January 17 for three-day bilateral talks under the forum of the Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC).

“The Pakistani side will be headed by Federal Minister Sardar Ayaz Sadiq for the IGC talks. For the import of Russian oil and LNG on a GtG basis, both countries need to first negotiate the IGA (inter-governmental agreement) as had been finalised and inked in the case of the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline Project (PSGP), which was earlier called the North-South Gas pipeline project,” they said.

When former prime minister Imran Khan had visited Moscow on February 24, 2022, the draft of the shareholding and facilitation agreement for PSGP was not finalised. Both sides wanted to sign the PSGP deal during the Imran-Putin meeting but it did not happen because of a disagreement on some clauses of the shareholding agreement from experts from both sides.

Right now, the G7 countries have imposed a price cap of $60 per barrel on Russian crude oil with a ban on Russian ships for oil transportation. In return, Moscow said it would ban oil sales to countries that join a Western price cap on the country’s crude.

During the talks, the Pakistan side needs to discuss the shipping cost, the premium by shipping trader, insurance cover and mode of payment.

However, the agenda of the IGC unfolds cooperation in areas of trade and investments, including agriculture, energy, customs, industry, education, science and technology, information and communication technologies, communication, roads and postal service, railways, and finance. A settlement of Pakistan’s debt to Russia will also be deliberated.

Both sides will also discuss prospects of cooperation in the field of electric power, hydropower, renewable energy sources and oil and gas production.

Discounted crude oil

On December 5, 2022, Minister of State (Petroleum Division) Musadik Malik said Russia had agreed to provide crude oil as well as petrol and diesel to Pakistan at discounted rates.

“Our visit to Russia turned out to be more productive than expected,” Malik said. He added that Russia did not have LNG. “Talks with Russia private firms are underway for the import of LNG, while we have also engaged Russia’s state LNG producers,” Malik said.

According to the state minister, significant progress was made in talks over the pipeline projects with Moscow.

On its visit to Russia, Pakistan had asked for a 30-40% discount on Russian crude oil during talks in Moscow, but the Russians said they could not offer anything right now as all volumes were committed.

During talks on the gas pipeline projects, Moscow asked Pakistan to first honour its commitment to the flagship project of the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline (PSGP) to be laid down from Karachi to Lahore, Punjab.

In their response, the Pakistani team proposed to change the model of the PSGP project. The Russian side said that the model of the project under GtG (government-to-government) arrangement had already been settled, save for some clauses of the shareholding agreement, which would soon be finalised. 

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Significant surge in the price of gold in Pakistan

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On Friday, the price of gold in Pakistan continued to increase.

According to the All-Pakistan Gems and Jewellers Sarafa Association, the price of 24-karat gold per tola has risen by Rs2,200, reaching Rs249,000.

The price of 10-gram 24-karat gold increased by Rs1,886, reaching a total of Rs213,477. On Thursday, the cost of 10 grammes of 22-karat gold was Rs195,687.

The global gold market likewise had a rising trajectory. As per APGJSA, the worldwide rate was $2,404 per ounce, showing a decline of $24 during the course of the trading day.

The local market witnessed constant silver prices at Rs2,900 per tola.

Market observers attribute the increase in gold prices to other variables, such as volatility in the global market, currency exchange rates, and economic conditions. The ongoing surge in gold prices is likely to impact investment choices and consumer behaviour in the near future.

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Gold prices in Pakistan have risen by Rs 1,200 per tola.

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The price of one tola of 24 carat gold rose by Rs1,200 and reached Rs246,800 on Thursday, compared to its previous sale price of Rs245,600 on the last trading day.

According to the All Sindh Sarafa Jewellers Association, the cost of 10 grammes of 24 karat gold rose by Rs1,029 to reach Rs211,591, compared to the previous price of Rs210,562. Similarly, the price of 10 grammes of 22 carat gold jumped from Rs193,016 to Rs193,959.

The price of silver remained unchanged at Rs2,900 per tola and Rs2,486.28 per ten grammes.

According to the association, the international market price of gold rose by $10, reaching $2,382 from $2,372.

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The federal government has declared wage and pension increments for its employees.

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The Ministry of Finance has formally declared a rise in the remuneration and retirement benefits of personnel working for the federal government, offering substantial economic alleviation.

According to the notification, personnel in grades 1 to 16 will experience a 25% increment in their salaries, while officials in grades 17 to 22 will be granted a 20% rise. The implementation of this modification will commence on July 1, 2024, and will be applicable to the employees’ fundamental remuneration.

In addition, retired federal government employees would receive a 15% rise in their pension payments. This increase is applicable to retirees from both the civilian and military sectors. It is important to mention that employees who retire on or after July 1, 2024, will also qualify for this pension rise.

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The 15% increase in pension will be computed based on the amount of pension received by retired employees after deductions. Nevertheless, the letter specifies that ad hoc aid will not be factored into the calculations for pension and gratuity.

Moreover, this increment will have no effect on the calculation of housing rent allowances for employees.

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