ISLAMABAD, Dec 24: Pakistan has proposed to Iran to buy the Indian share of gas from a proposed $7.5 billion pipeline because India appears to have lost interest in the project after signing a civilian nuclear deal with the US.

Sources in the ministry of petroleum told Dawn on Wednesday that a team of energy experts led by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain would go to Iran on Monday on a two-day visit to discuss the deal.

The sources said the team was visiting Iran on the directives of President Asif Ali Zardari and it had thoroughly discussed the deal with him and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.

They said that the delegation would try to persuade the Iranian authorities to sign the agreement in the next few months even if India stayed out.

“We will try our best to convince the Iranian side of the need for starting work on the project as early as possible,” an official in the ministry told Dawn.

Iran recently said that it planned to link the gas prices with that of crude oil in the Gulf market, with a ratio of 80 to 100 -- meaning that if a barrel of crude oil is priced at $100 in the international market, Iran will sell one million cubic feet of gas at $80. Also, the gas prices will not remain fixed but will fluctuate in accordance with the oil price.

Pakistan, however, wants the gas priced at half of the crude price.

“We are pursuing a proposal of 100 to 50,” the ministry official said.

Iran has said that after the completion of the project, it will fix gas price at around $10 to $12 per British thermal unit compared to $4 offered by Pakistan and India.

The sources said Iran still wanted India to be part of the deal to counter growing US influence on its old ally in the energy sector.

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