TAPI pipeline: Turkmenistan signs first contracts with India, Pakistan

By AFP
Published: May 23, 2012

1,700km TAPI pipeline aims to transport more than 30 billion cubic metres of gas annually from Turkmenistan. PHOTO: FILE

AVAZA: Turkmenistan on Wednesday signed agreements with India and Pakistan to deliver gas through a new pipeline that will transit Afghanistan, the first contracts in the ambitious project.

The 1,700-kilometre (1,050-mile) TAPI pipeline aims to transport more than 30 billion cubic metres of gas annually from Turkmenistan to energy-hungry consumers in Pakistan and India as well as relieving shortages in Afghanistan.

The sale-purchase agreements for the yet-to-be-built pipeline were signed at a ceremony on the sidelines of the annual Turkmenistan oil and gas congress in its Caspian Sea resort of Avaza, just outside the city of Turkmenbashi.

They were inked by the head of the state gas company Turkmengaz Sakhatmurad Mamedov with representatives of India’s Gail Ltd and Pakistan’s Inter State Gas System.

“Today we are witnesses of a historic event, not just of regional but of world scale,” said Turkmenistan Deputy Prime Minister Baimurat Khodzhamukhamedov.

Turkmenistan and Afghanistan signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the gas sector but no contract. Khodzhamukhamedov said negotiations were continuing with Afghanistan on the price of deliveries.

The TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) natural gas pipeline, which is backed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), is regarded with suspicion as a wildy ambitious pipedream by some analysts.

Much of the pipeline will go through Afghanistan which neighbours both Turkmenistan and Pakistan but remains wracked by violence and instability.

The pipeline’s route would take it straight through the region’s most turbulent locales, including conflict-torn Helmand and Kandahar provinces in Afghanistan as well as Quetta in Pakistan, where tribal unrest is common.

But India’s Oil Minister S. Jaipal Reddy said that his fast-growing nation was waiting impatiently for the pipeline to be ready, noting that India’s energy demands would quadruple by 2017.

Afghanistan’s Mining Minister Wahidullah Shahrani said that the project will “spread peace and help our region flourish.”

Financial details and precise volume details of the contracts were not disclosed but according to the ADB, the contracts will lead to the supply of up to 90 million cubic meters of natural gas a day through the pipeline.

Turkmenistan is also being courted by the West and China for its immense gas reserves which, according to British auditors Gaffney, Cline and Associates, are the second largest in the world.

The country is also keen on diversifying its export routes which remain dependent on its former Soviet master Russia with whom it has had occasionally prickly relations.

It has already begun exporting gas to China through a pipeline that was opened by China’s President Hu Jintao in December 2009.

According to the ADB, the TAPI in 2008 was estimated to cost at least $7.6 billion and the partners now face the task of attracting commercial partners to build, finance, and operate the pipeline.

But the project does enjoy the support of the United States, which is keen to deter subcontinent states from dependency on energy supplies from its arch foe Iran.

Crucially, the pipeline project also signals a further warming of economic ties between the traditional rivals India and Pakistan.

“Each country stands to gain, making this not only the ‘Peace Pipeline,’ but a pipeline to prosperity as well,” said Klaus Gerhaeusser, director general of the central and west Asia department at the ADB.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • Zamir Malik
    May 23, 2012 - 4:07PM

    This is the best pipeline to control Pakistan in future. America knows that Pak-Iran Gas Pipeline could not be influenced by them so they forced Pakistan to abandon that project despite it was the cheapest and most secure and was costing less than 2 billion dollars while TAPI is costing more than 7 billion dollars and our Slave leaders agree to TAPI that will cross Afghanistan and in future in order to blackmail Pakistan both countries Afghanistan and America can cut Gas supplies and also Taliban will be strengthened as War lords will be given the security money of this pipeline. No wonder We are a Perfect slave nation and we cannot make our own decisions at all.

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  • Shoaib
    May 23, 2012 - 4:20PM

    Pak iran gas pipeline is the cheapest and secure option and we are abandoning that project owing to US pressure. Such a shame for Pakistan . And now pipeline will cross from Afganistan and Pakistan could easily be controlled by blackmailing of cutting of gas supplies at any time when they want.

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  • Khurram
    May 23, 2012 - 4:31PM

    America is leaving Afghanistan in 2014 but they are leaving a controlling string for Pakistan through Afghanistan. What Dignity and Sovereignty Pakistan is talking about when they cannot even defend the cheapest pipe line project and they had to bow down to US pressure to end Iran Gas Pipeline project and now they are going for such an Expensive and security ridden project. Pak-Iran Gas Pipeline would have given Pakistan full independence from interference of any other country but we are so stupid enough that we want to be Dependent on UnSecure country for Pakistan’s energy needs. We should remember Afghanistan is the same country which took years to recognize Pakistan’s existence and even now they recognize FATA regions as a Part of Afghanistan so if we are expecting security from them then we are the most stupid in the world.

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  • s
    May 23, 2012 - 6:01PM

    We are not abandoning the Iran pipeline. This is in addition that. We need a lot of energy, Tapi pipeline alone cannot suffice. INSHALLAH we will build Iran pipeline as well

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  • WhatisThetruth
    May 23, 2012 - 6:02PM

    In addition, the US pressure was to ensure that the TAPI line passed through Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Hence, the US is using Pakistan, Afghanistan and India to weaken Russia. Also, our slave rulers will then strengthen India who will then become a regional power and we will become subservient to them. Well done rulers, well done!

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  • ali
    May 23, 2012 - 6:10PM

    we as a nation “complete failure”

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  • Sohail Hmaid Malik
    May 23, 2012 - 6:14PM

    This is the only shame for our leaders that they are offering USA to control us through this pipeline by obeying them we are unable to retain the good relations with Iran shame for all shame for all.

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  • May 23, 2012 - 6:42PM

    As if this pipeline will be a bomb proof one… Considering the volatile and restive land of Afghanistan I don’t see this pipeline delivering anything except some bomb blast tearing it apart every now and then.

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  • naseer Qureshi
    May 23, 2012 - 7:28PM

    @zamir Malik
    I think successful completion of TAPI, along with IPI, will benefit Pakistanis just as much as IPI. Both mega projects have equal influence and significance for the future of Pakistan and energy-deprived and gas-hungry Pakistanis.

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  • naseer Qureshi
    May 23, 2012 - 7:38PM

    I read some of the comments from individuals and highly disappointed by the negative thinking and pessimism prevailing amonge us. I am fully confident that interdependence and mutual respect is the only way forward like we have seen Europe, where former blood-thirsty foes are now economic friends. I am very hopeful that TAPI is just as important as IPI and will be God Willing beneficial to Pakistanis and everybody in the region. Remember, we need all kind of energy from all sources. Let’s be realistic. If IPI is not possible immidiately let our elective representatives do what thay can for their nation immidiately. We are not abandoning the IPI just postponing it. we will build it later on.

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  • ather
    May 23, 2012 - 7:47PM

    i think it is a good idea. india-pakistan-afghanistan should be more interconnected economically so that destabilization in any country goes against the interest of the establishments of others. in this way there will be peace. economy is the main drive way. it makes europe peaceful , it can make this part of the world too.

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  • Zamir Malik
    May 23, 2012 - 7:53PM

    @naseer Qureshi: IPI project is gojng to be stalled by TAPI project. IPI project could be completed in less than 2 years but gov is not interested. America has forced Pakistan to stop working on IPI because if IPI would be completed then there is no need of TAPI right now for Pakistan. So my friend IPI project is stalled right now. Also Do you know Pakistan will pay millions of dollars of Royalty to Afghanistan only a Royalty of Transit and in Pak-Iran Pipeline Pakistan dont have to pay anything. Think objectively and rationally. Our government is not wise enough to do both projects so Obviously one project have to be stopped owing to financial constraints. Also who will guarantee smooth flow of Gas from more than 800 Km of Region from Afghanistan. TAPI will be a new blackmailing tool used by Taliban as whenever we will not cede to their demands they could blow that pipeline. Also Gas cut is another threat that could be utilized under economic sanctions imposed on Pakistan by America.

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  • Shahid
    May 23, 2012 - 8:07PM

    what about building Thar coal deposits?. If it is developed we don’t even need a gas pipeline.

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  • asma@london
    May 23, 2012 - 8:09PM

    @Khurram:
    Why do you make up stories yourself. I never heard Pakistan abandoning Iran gas project!! We just love to downgrade our governments.

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  • raja
    May 23, 2012 - 10:13PM

    @WhatisThetruth: Why shouldn’t the south asian power boom and become a regional power

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  • noor ali
    May 23, 2012 - 10:27PM

    @Zamir Malik:
    hey dear what do u think seems absolutely wrong , while talking about TAPI dont forget India as it will require natural gas four times of its current requirement by 2017 and gas pipeline enter India through pakistan (Multan) ,if America is intended to blackmail Pakistan it means it willl cut the supply to the india as well , which is a point to think . because india is one of the biggest market for America and it would not lose it at any cost . it is a plus point for pakistan in other sense.

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  • Aizaz
    May 25, 2012 - 4:04PM

    I think our leaders are scared in case America “bombs us into stone age”!

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