Pakistan has asked neighbouring Iran to more than double the amount of natural gas it can import through a pipeline between the two countries, despite the deal potentially falling foul of US sanctions against Iran.

The Iran-Pakistan pipeline is expected to start delivering 21 million cubic metres a day (cm/d) of natural gas once it is completed in 2014. Pakistan has now asked Iran to increase transfers to to 30 million cm/d, and later as much as 50 million cm/d, as it tries to deal with rising domestic demand for gas, state-owned Oil Ministry news agency Shana reports.

Hossein Bidarmaghz, managing director of state-owned National Iranian Gas Export Company, says Iran is “considering the request”.

According to Bidarmaghz, the Iranian section of the pipeline is 80 per cent complete, while Pakistan will invite bids this month for the construction of its side. The long-delayed pipeline stretching from the South Pars gas field in the Gulf, into Pakistan’s western Balochistan province is expected to be completed by 2013.

The US has renewed its opposition to the Iran-Pakistan pipeline, warning that Islamabad may invoke sanctions if it continues to pursue the plan (MEED 18:7:11).

During the Pakistan-US strategic dialogue on energy in Islamabad, which ended on 16 September, Carlos Pascual, the US Special Envoy for International Energy Affairs, encouraged Islamabad to abandon its plan to import gas from Iran, the local Express Tribune reports.

The US is instead proposing Pakistan a planned pipeline from Turkmenistan and Afghanistan then on to India.