Pakistan, Turkmenistan to give big push to TAPI project

Published: August 6, 2015
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In a recent visit to Pakistan, the vice premier and oil minister of Turkmenistan invited Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the pipeline project in December. PHOTO: FILE

In a recent visit to Pakistan, the vice premier and oil minister of Turkmenistan invited Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the pipeline project in December. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

Pakistan and Turkmenistan are set to engage in talks in a bid to take a giant leap forward in executing the US-backed transnational pipeline project that will connect four countries in Central and South Asia.

Under the project called Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (Tapi) gas pipeline, Ashgabat and French energy major Total have signed a memorandum of understanding for a service contract for gas extraction in the Central Asian state, say officials aware of the development.

Talks with Chinese and Russian companies are also under way in order to select a consortium leader, which will finance and implement the $10-billion pipeline project. A Pakistani team will leave for Turkmenistan on Thursday.

Read: Work on TAPI to start by December

“During the dialogue in Turkmenistan, progress on the service contract being negotiated between the Turkmen government and multinational companies will be reviewed and the way forward will be discussed to build the pipeline,” a senior government official told The Express Tribune.

Earlier, US energy giants Chevron and ExxonMobil had expressed interest in gas exploration contracts and laying the pipeline, but they wanted a share in gas production which Turkmenistan did not endorse.

Now, Chinese, French and Russian firms are working on the service contract with Ashgabat and if an agreement is reached, they will charge a fee against the contract.

Gas companies of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India have already established a company that will build, own and operate the natural gas pipeline, which will be 1,800km long, starting from Turkmenistan and reaching India after passing through Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The four state-run gas companies will have an equal share in the pipeline operator. According to officials, the shareholding agreement was reached before selecting the consortium leader.

In a recent visit to Pakistan, the vice premier and oil minister of Turkmenistan invited Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the pipeline project in December this year.

Leading a delegation, the vice premier met Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi along with other officials and discussed the way forward for an early start of work on the pipeline.

Under the project, Pakistan will receive 1.365 billion cubic feet of gas per day (bcfd) from Turkmenistan, India will also get the same 1.365 bcfd and Afghanistan will receive a smaller share of 0.5 bcfd.

Pakistan and India have already signed a gas sale and purchase agreement and efforts are under way to attract potential investors to finance the laying of the pipeline.

Read: Pakistan looks for conflict resolution mechanism

The four countries linked with the project are currently in the process of setting up a consortium and selecting a technically capable and financially sound company as the consortium leader, which will design, finance and construct the gas pipeline.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • curious2
    Aug 6, 2015 - 5:05AM

    USA still officially backs TAPI but Turkmenistan turned down USA oil company equity participation in the project. Once the USA oil companies abandoned TAPI the project started to flounder – no leadership – no real push by USA govt. Pakistan and Turkmenistan can meet/push all they want but they don’t have the money/clout/know-how to get a complicated project like this completed. It’s moving forward on momentum only.Recommend

  • ABC
    Aug 6, 2015 - 8:41AM

    The real deal is Iran-Pak gas pipeline. NS has this habit of wasting tax payers money in dead projects to get some kickbacks in his foreign accountsRecommend

  • jb
    Aug 6, 2015 - 10:26AM

    TAPI is a good initiative. US interest in it doesnt end at US companies being involved. This opens an alternative and viable way for Central Asian gas other than from Russia and the Caucasus which is of strategic interest. Total is also one of the oil majors and the global energy world does not end at Chevron and Exxon Mobil. What’s more, Chinese and Russian involvement is also mentioned and CNOOC and Gazprom have more than enough experience and financial muscle to pull this.Recommend

  • Naresh
    Aug 6, 2015 - 3:09PM

    Please refer the following Article :
    .
    Reshuffling Eurasia’s Energy Deck — Iran, China and Pipelineistan – PEPE ESCOBAR
    .
    http://atimes.com/2015/07/reshuffling-eurasias-energy-deck-iran-china-and-pipelineistan-escobar/
    .
    And the idea of committing billions of dollars to build a pipeline traversing a war zone – from Western Afghanistan to Kandahar, not to mention crossing a Balochistan prone to separatist attacks — is nothing short of sheer lunacy.
    .
    As part of a nasty ongoing dispute, Turkmengaz accuses Gazprom of economic exploitation. So what is Plan B? Once again, China. Beijing already buys more than half of all Turkmen gas exports. That flows through the Central Asia-China pipeline; full capacity of 55 billion cubic meters (bcm) a year, only used by half at the moment.
    .
    And needless to add, China is as much interested in buying more gas from Turkmenistan – the Pipelineistan way – as from Iran. Pipelineistan fits right into China’s privileged “escape from Malacca” strategy; to buy a maximum of energy as far away from the U.S. Navy as possible.
    .
    So Turkmenistan is bound to get closer and closer, energy-wise, to Beijing. That leaves the Turkmen option of supplying the EU in the dust – as much as Brussels has been courting Ashgabat for years.
    .
    Thus India’s Dream of getting Turkmenistani Gas will never be fulfilled.
    CheersRecommend

  • Pankaj
    Aug 6, 2015 - 4:57PM

    This is a bad deal for India. India should pull out of this project. It will be waste of money, resources and time to build this pipeline passing through Afghanistan and Pakistan. Better look for other alternatives like Solar or Nuclear power plant which provides cheap and clean energy once the plant is set up.Recommend

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