June 22, 2018

Work begins on Afghan section of gas pipeline to Pakistan, India: Turkmenistan

25 February 2018, 12:18 | Simon Arnold

Business & Economics

Business & Economics

The Afghan President also noted that the TAPI project demonstrated that Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, India, and other nations look at economic development as the key topic of discussion to take the region towards peace and prosperity.

Pakistan and India will attend a groundbreaking ceremony of the Turkmenistan section of the Dollars 10 billion TAPI gas pipeline project that will help ease energy shortages in South Asia, Pakistan Foreign Office said.

Turkmenistan sits on the world's fourth-largest gas reserves but lost a major buyer in Russia after Russian energy giant Gazprom wound down imports of Turkmen gas and then ceased purchases completely in 2016.

Among hundreds of guests attending the ceremony were President of Turkmenistan Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and India's Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar.

"TAPI will lead from a gas pipeline into an energy and communication corridor", Mr Abbasi said, adding that as well as providing energy, the pipeline would underpin development of road, rail and communications networks.

The ambitious natural gas pipeline project entered its practical phase in Pakistan after the process of initiating front-end-engineering-and-design (FEED) route survey was formally inaugurated past year. But starting work on the pipeline has been delayed because of the problem of crossing Afghanistan. "The South Asia is being connected with the Central Asia through Afghanistan after more than a century of separation", Ghani said.

The Afghan government see the pipeline project as an economic milestone, with Kabul expected to earn up to US$500 million/y in transit duties and over 25 000 local jobs created.

The pipeline will traverse war-wracked Afghanistan, raising security concerns. Major portion of the pipeline would pass through southwest Afghanistan which is major bastion of Taliban. Mr Abbasi, who was accompanied by Minister of State for Energy Jam Kamal Khan, said TAPI would provide Pakistan the much needed gas security, as it would help meet 10 per cent of Pakistan's energy needs, 20 per cent of its natural gas requirements.

The prime minister reiterated Pakistan's full support to Turkmenistan's policy of permanent neutrality and President Berdimuhamadov's initiatives at the UN.

TAPI has been supported by the USA and the Asian Development Bank and been promoted by Turkmenistan since the 1990s but has been shrouded in delays because of the problems crossing Afghanistan.

The Prime Minister also congratulated the ADB for its role in making the project a reality.

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