Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will visit Turkmenistan and the Kyrgyz Republic on May 20 and 21 to push for going ahead with energy supply in an effort to address shortages in the country and integrate with regional economies, officials say.
Apart from the energy cooperation, Pakistan is likely to enter into agreements with the two countries in other areas as well.
According to officials, the Foreign Office held a meeting with the ministries concerned on Monday to prepare the agenda for the premier’s trip. He will go to Turkmenistan on May 20 and visit the Kyrgyz Republic on May 21.
The government is currently in the process of executing gas and power import agreements with the two Central Asian nations. From Turkmenistan, Pakistan will import gas and from the Kyrgyz Republic it will purchase electricity.
During high-level talks, the prime minister will discuss the progress on the energy supply programmes. A strategy will also come up for review in order to step up work on the projects as the Pakistan government wants to end power crisis by the end of 2018, when next general elections will be due. For gas import, a pipeline will be built that will start from Turkmenistan and reach India after snaking through Afghanistan and Pakistan. The cost of this project, called Tapi pipeline, may go up to $10 billion because of delay in start of work. Earlier, the cost was estimated at $7.5 billion.
The above four nations are locked in negotiations for the award of a multibillion-dollar contract to French energy giant Total as well as a Chinese and a Russian firm.
Officials say Turkmenistan will sign a service contract with these companies to pave the way for extraction of gas from the country’s fields. One of the companies will be picked to lead a consortium that will finance and lay the gas pipeline.
The prime minister wants all stakeholders to start work on the project as swiftly as possible as the cost will continue to rise. The pipeline, which will spread over 1,680 km, will have the capacity to bring 3.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per annum from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
In the meeting at the Foreign Office, a representative of the Ministry of Water and Power recalled that Pakistan and Central Asian countries had signed the Master Agreement for the Central Asia-South Asia (Casa) 1000 project and a related power purchase accord was inked in the third week of April in Istanbul.
The transmission tariff is estimated at 2.98 cents per kilowatt hour, energy tariff at 5.51 cents, Afghan transit fee at 1.25 cents and transit fee for Tajikistan at 0.1 cent for the flow of Kyrgyz electricity.
“The prime minister will be updated on the power supply project during his visit to the Kyrgyz Republic,” said the official.
The Casa-1000 project involves transportation of surplus electric power available in summer months – May 1 to September 30 – from the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The exporting countries have suggested that they will be able to deliver 4,000 gigawatt hours of energy in a normal year and 4,434 gigawatt hours in a wet year.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2015.