TAPI Gas Pipe Line Project is under Threat

ISLAMABAD: Much needed USD 7.6-billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan- India (TAPI) gas pipeline project is at stake after India and Afghanistan failed to agree on transit fee passing through Afghan territory, officials said after the two day meeting between the four countries representatives.

The project was signed by President Zardari, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, President of Turkmenistan Berdimuhamedov and Indian Petroleum Minister Murli Deora in the capital ofTurkmenistan, Ashgabat, onDecember 11, 2011.

Under the agreement,Afghanistan’s share will be 500 million cubic feet per day (MMCFD),Pakistan’s share will be 1,325 MMCFD and India’s share will be 1,325 MMCFD.

Consequently,Islamabad and New Delhitoo could not agree on the transit fee for the segment of the pipeline passing throughPakistan, which has linked its fee structure to any India-Afghanistan agreement.

Technical teams of Afghanistan,India and Pakistan held talks for two days in Islamabad.

Pakistan’s Petroleum Secretary Ejaz Chaudhry was quoted by local news paper the News as saying that the meeting had ended inconclusively yesterday because all three countries Pakistan,Afghanistan and India failed to get consensus.

However, Indian officials told press trust of India that the talks were held in a positive atmosphere and there was considerable progress on all major issues. And all three countries are trying to settle their differences on the issue of transit fees, Indian officials said.

Afghanistan will charge Pakistan and India a transit fee for gas passing through the pipeline from Turkmenistan and Pakistan will charge India the same amount as the Afghan side.

Ejaz Chaudhry said Afghanistan had demanded 54 cents per MMBTU (million British thermal unit) as the transit fee but this was rejected by India. Subsequently, the Afghan side made a demand of 50 cents per MMBTU and India responded with an offer of 47 cents, he said.

The difference between the two sides was just three cents per MMBTU and could be settled if there was political support from the Indian and Afghan leadership and “a push from the US”, which is supporting the project, the daily Dawn news  quoted its sources as saying.

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