ISLAMABAD - Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources is in the process of finalizing a timeline for construction of the $2 billion North-South gas pipeline project to meet increasing gas demand of power and industrial sectors of the country.

"The timeline will hopefully be finalized in March and the practical work on the project will start subsequently," official sources in the ministry told APP.

They said Minister for Petroleum Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, along with a delegation, had recently visited Russia and underlined the need for completion of the project at the earliest.

The visit was held in context of the reported international sanction on a Russian firm designated to lay the pipeline from Karachi to Lahore, they said adding "the sanction is not of such a nature that bars the company to undertake the project."

The Russian government, they said, would direct the company constructing the pipeline to start construction work as early as possible.

During the visit, the sources informed that Pakistan desired Russian cooperation in construction of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) pipelines, oil and gas exploration, power generation and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) air-mix projects.

They said both the countries had signed the agreement on government-to-government level and the pipeline was being constructed on built operate and transfer (BOT) basis.

Under the project, a 1100 kilometer pipeline from Karachi to Lahore with Russian investment of $2 billion would be built.

They said the project was of great significance for Pakistan as it would help supply the additional volume of imported gas from the country's South to rest of the country.

Due to the efforts of the present government, Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminal was constructed in Karachi in a record time. Past governments had failed to take concrete steps for the import of LNG to overcome energy and fuel crisis, they remarked.

They said around 12.4bcm (billion cubic meters) of gas would be transported from Karachi to Lahore per annum through a 42 inch diameter pipeline, and "the project's first phase is likely to be completed by December 2017."

The pipeline would connect liquified natural gas (LNG) terminals located in Karachi with those of Lahore, they added.

The sources said Pakistan was passing through a severe energy crisis and the project would prove to be a milestone to overcome it.