Pakistan and Turkmenistan Decide to Start TAPI Project in December

By Arif Qureshi

Islamabad: Pakistan green signalled delayed and much-awaited ground breaking ceremony of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project in December 2015.

Prime Minister of Pakistan Mian Nawaz Sharif assured  Deputy Prime Minister for Oil and Gas and Special Envoy of the President of Turkmenistan, Baymurat Hojamuhamedov, that Pakistan wanted to start the TAPI project as early as possible.

Deputy Prime Minister for Oil and Gas and Special Envoy of the President of Turkmenistan also extended the prime minister an invitation to visit Turkmenistan to attend the president’s ceremony which was accepted by Mian Nawaz Sharif.

The construction of a $10 billion gas pipeline stretching from Central to South Asia is set to begin in December, Pakistani officials said Monday after meeting with a delegation from Turkmenistan. Turkmen Gaz, Afghan Gas Enterprise, Inter State Gas Systems (Pakistan) and GAIL (India) are all equal shareholders in the Tapi Pipeline Company which will build, own and operate the pipeline. According to available details France’s Total was working to take the lead on TAPI project but China and  Russia has also shown its interest in the project.

Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India have long planned the ambitious project to meet growing energy needs in the three South Asian countries but administrative issues and unrest in Afghanistan have so far delayed its realization.

According to a BBC report the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (Tapi) gas pipeline is nothing but a pipe dream. but the visit of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Ashgabat in May and the visit of his counterpart Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Turkmenistan in July is being seen as a positive signals towards the TAPI Project.

The proposed 1,735km-long (1,078-mile) pipeline will carry 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas a year from Galkynysh, making it one of the world’s biggest onshore gas fields. Pakistan and India will each get 42% of that volume – the rest will be purchased by Afghanistan. The Asian Development Bank has sponsored the feasibility study, the route has been mapped and the source field has been determined.

It is reminded that the $7.5-billion Iran-Pakistan (IP) pipeline was inaugurated with great fanfare in March 2013, but the project immediately hit quicksand in the form of international sanctions on Tehran, which meant cash-strapped Pakistan struggled to raise the money to build its side.

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