| GEO World|
| Iran says close to gas deal with Pakistan|
| Updated at: 1450 PST, Monday, May 25, 2009|
TEHRAN: Iran and Pakistan are close to signing a deal to export gas from the Islamic republic to its eastern neighbour through a multi-billion dollar pipeline, top Iranian officials said on Monday.
The date for completion of the much-delayed pipeline has not yet been announced but Iranian officials said the supply of gas to Pakistan could begin in three to four years.
"The final contract between National Iranian Gas Export Company and the Interstate Gas System will be signed in three weeks," Reza Kasaizadeh, chief executive officer of National Iranian Gas, told.
The pipeline project, when initially mooted in 1994, had proposed to carry gas from Iran to Pakistan and India. But India withdrew last year from the talks over repeated disputes on prices and transit fees.
Iran and Pakistan appear to have reached a broad agreement on the deal on Sunday during a visit by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to Tehran for a three-way summit with his counterparts from Iran and Afghanistan.
Kasaizadeh said "issues of price, revision of price, the pricing formula and other questions" have been finalised.
According to the agreement, Tehran will supply 21.5 million cubic metres (752 million cubic feet) of gas a day to Pakistan once the pipeline is complete, Hojatollah Ghanimi-Fard, Iran's representative involved in the pipeline project, told the oil ministry's news agency.
The 900-kilometre (560-mile) pipeline is being built between Asalooyeh in southern Iran and Iranshahr near the border with Pakistan and will carry the gas from Iran's South Pars field Kasaizadeh said on Sunday that around 250 kilometres of pipeline was still to be constructed and that exports Pakistan could then start within three to four years.