Islamabad, Jan 26 : Iran's "increasing international commitments and compulsions" have delayed the signing of a gas sale and purchase agreement for the cross-border pipeline.
The agreement was to be signed this month. Sources said that Tehran had communicated to Islamabad that the agreement could be signed in the second or third week of February.
A senior official of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources confirmed that due to Iranian government's engagements, the signing of the agreement would take another two to three weeks.
"But we have in principle agreed on all the documents about the transaction," he said, hoping that dates for the signing would be finalised soon.
This agreement, the official clarified, would initially be with Iran and that it was still to be finalised with India. "India is not so far on board and, therefore, the agreement is only between Tehran and Islamabad," he said.
He said that technical experts and lawyers of both the countries had sorted out all the issues and that it was more or less a done deal. "Now it is only a matter of time," he claimed.
The sources said that India was dragging its feet to join the project due to the US pressure.
The official said that gas price that had been finalised for the project on the basis of Japan Crude Cocktail (JCC) would be 40 per cent less than the current furnace oil prices and result in a saving of about one billion per annum in oil import bill.
The official said three options for pipeline diameter were under consideration - 36-inch, 42-inch and 56-inch - and a decision would depend on India's decision about the project.
He said Pakistan would welcome Indian participation at any stage but a clear response from the Indian government was still to come, the Dawn reported.