ISLAMABAD: The four nations involved in the Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (Tapi) gas pipeline project have unanimously agreed to pick one of the three companies – one each from France, Russia and China – that have expressed interest in becoming the consortium leader for financing the multibillion-dollar project.
According to officials, the four nations discussed this during a meeting here on Thursday of the steering committee on the transnational gas pipeline starting from Central Asia.
The company will be selected by Turkmenistan by March 15, which will extract gas in Turkmenistan and finance and lay the pipeline for energy transmission.
Officials said that the meeting agreed to take practical measures to start the Tapi project as soon as possible, while construction of the gas line will take four years to complete.
Terms and conditions to start the work on a fast track were under consideration, while first flow of gas to Pakistan is expected by 2020 instead of the scheduled date of 2017, they added.
Under the contract, Turkmenistan will pay service fee to the company for development of the fields and the entity will bear the costs associated with laying the pipeline.
The gas pipeline will be 1,680km long and has a designed capacity to supply 3.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas from Turkmenistan to the other three countries.
Pakistan will get 1.32 billion cubic feet of gas per day (bcfd), while India will receive 1.32 bcfd and 0.5 bcfd will be provided to Afghanistan.
An Intergovernmental Agreement was also signed in 2010 by the head of states of all the project members.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, while chairing the 9th meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Energy, on Thursday directed the committee that steps should be taken on an immediate basis for an early start of the Tapi pipeline which would be immensely beneficial in providing energy security to the region.
Officials said energy ministers of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India attended the steering committee meeting.
Turkmen State Agency for Management and Use of Hydrocarbon Resources Director Yagshgeldi Kakayev, Afghan Minister of Mines and Petroleum Daoudshah Saba, Indian Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan, Asian Development Bank Director General Klaus Gerhaeusser and other senior officials were present in the meeting.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 13th, 2015.