Leaders break ground on TAPI pipeline in Turkmen desert
Presidents Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov of Turkmenistan and Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian Vice-President Hamid Ansari attended the ceremony outside the city of Mary in the Karakum Desert, marking the beginning of work on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) link.
Speaking on the occasion, Berdymukhamedov “today we were participants and witnesses of a historic event. Today marks the start of a project of great scale — the TAPI pipeline.”
He said TAPI was designed to become a new effective step towards the formation of the modern architecture of global energy security, a powerful driver of economic and social stability in the Asian region.
The next phase of development at Galkynysh — the second largest natural gas field in the world — will be overseen by a consortium of Japanese and Turkish companies in addition to Turkmenistan, Berdymukhamedov said.
The 1,814-kilometre (1,127-mile) link will have a capacity of 33 billion cubic metres, Berdymukhamedov said at the ceremony.
The pipeline aims to export up to 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas per year from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
It ensures energy security through balanced development of regional infrastructure and institutions, stronger integration of markets and economic growth through enhanced energy trading.
Pakistan and India will get over 1.3 billion cubic feet per day of gas from TAPI while Afghanistan will get 0.5 billion cubic feet.
India will pay $200-250 million in transit fees to Pakistan while Pakistan will pay the same amount in transit fees to Afghanistan.
The project will help generate job opportunities for thousands of Afghans.
Mines and Petroleum Ministry’s spokesman Mohaiuddin Noori called the project important and said its implementation would cost more than $7 billion to be paid by the partners.
However, uncertainty hangs over the costly and politically complex project. Aside from the risks associated with a link traversing war-torn Afghanistan, the four-country consortium has yet to confirm the participation of a foreign commercial partner willing to help finance it.
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