To Reach Pakistan, Saudi Arabia Goes Through Turkmenistan

The Central Asian state could give Riyadh a way into the surging Pakistani natural gas market – and edge Iran out of it.

Ekaterina Zolotova |November 1, 2018

Energy pipelines carry more than oil or natural gas. They are powerful conduits for economic and political influence. In Pakistan, increasing demand for energy has caught the attention of several possible suppliers eager for the country’s business and fealty. Saudi Arabia, for example, has promised to sell Islamabad $3 billion worth of crude oil on a deferred payment plan as part of an investment deal. It’s a competitive offer for Pakistan, whose precarious finances mean the country needs all the credit it can get. But it’s hardly the only energy arrangement Islamabad is entertaining, and in the realm of natural gas, the kingdom may well be outbid. Iran and Russia have proposed building an offshore pipeline to accommodate Pakistan’s surging demand for natural gas. The three parties signed a preliminary agreement on the pipeline – which would run 1,724 miles (2,775 kilometers) from Iran to India by way of Pakistan – in September. And just like that, Saudi Arabia seemed cut o

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