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Pakistan seeks to build oil refinery near Gwadar port, Saudi may fund it

The government of new Prime Minister Imran Khan wants to turn the Chinese-funded Gwadar port into 'an oil city'

Reuters  |  Islamabad/Karachi 

As the port develops, the fisheries will become more constrained [image by: Shabbir Ahmed]
Gwadar port [image by: Shabbir Ahmed]

wants to build an refinery near the deep-water to reduce petroleum product imports, a said on Tuesday as the government hosted a Saudi delegation reported to be considering funding the project.

is also during the Saudi visit expected to seek financial assistance from its to avoid another bailout by the Monetary Fund amid a foreign currency crisis fuelled by a widening current accounts deficit.

The government of new wants to turn the Chinese-funded into "an city" to reduce dependence on imported refined fuel, Khusro Bakhtyar, minister for planning, development and reforms, told reporters.

The Saudis were reported by Pakistani newspapers Dawn and The News to be considering investing in what say would be a multi-billion-dollar refinery project.

Bakhtyar mentioned neither the projected cost nor any confirmed Saudi investment.

Last month, invited to invest in projects related to the China-funded Belt and Road infrastructure corridor, of which the is the crown jewel of some $60 billion in projects in Pakistan.

"An city concept has been developed for Gwadar," Bakhtyar said, saying the country can reduce its $16 billion petroleum import bill if it imports to refine instead of more expensive finished products.

"If we set up a refinery and complete Pakistan's requirement through our refinery this can be cut by half. And God willing, we will do this."

Khan made his first foreign trip since he swept to power in elections in July, but there was no confirmation that the might offer an economic lifeline.

Pakistan has seen foreign reserves dwindle to about $9 billion, barely enough to meet its external debt through the end of the year, and the rupee has lost more than 20 percent of its value since December.

have reported that Islamabad is hoping for a deferred-payments deal for Saudi oil to help shore up foreign reserves and possibly even a bridge loan of around $2 billion, but officials on both sides have not commented on any requests.

First Published: Tue, October 02 2018. 21:23 IST
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