Afghan section of TAPI gas pipeline launched

Serhetabat, February 23, Lachin Sultanova, AZERTAC

Construction work on the Afghan section of the Turkmenistan– Afghanistan–Pakistan–India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, which aims to bring natural gas from the Gylkynish and adjacent gas fields in Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, has been launched.

Participants in the ceremony included Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and India’s Minister of State for External Affairs Mobashar Jawed Akbar, Azerbaijani energy minister Parviz Shahbazov, representatives of Asian Development Bank, and high-ranking officials from TAPI participant countries, Central Asian and other regions.

Addressing the ceremony, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov said: “Turkmenistan is updating its energy infrastructure taking into account increased demand for energy carriers in the world. This new route will give an opportunity to transport goods through Afghanistan to other countries. Afghanistan may get access to Europe via other transport corridors such as the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey,” said the President of Turkmenistan.

The project is expected to transport 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas a year along an 1,800 kilometer (1,125 miles) route from Galkynysh, the world’s second-biggest gas field, to Fazilka near the border with Pakistan in northern India.

“South Asia is being connected with Central Asia through Afghanistan after more than a century of division,” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said.

While the pipeline will allow Turkmenistan to find new consumers in Asia and cut its dependence on Beijing, which buys about 35 billion cubic meters of gas annually. It is also being seen as a central plank in ambitious regional development goals.

“TAPI will lead from a gas pipeline into an energy and communication corridor,” Abbasi said, adding that as well as providing energy, the pipeline would underpin development of road, rail and communications networks.

The TAPI project, supported by the United States and the Asian Development Bank, has been touted by Turkmenistan since the 1990s.

The pipeline will run for hundreds of kilometers through areas of southern Afghanistan largely controlled by Taliban insurgents fighting the Western-backed government in Kabul but the movement has signaled that it will not hinder the project.

Afghanistan, is expected to take 5 billion cubic meters of gas itself, with the rest divided equally between Pakistan and India. In addition, Kabul will earn hundreds of millions of dollars in transit fees.

The ADB is acting as the facilitator and coordinator for the project. The feasibility study, proposed to lay a 56-inch diameter 1,680 KM pipeline with design capacity of 3.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per annum (Bcfd) from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan up to Pak-India border.

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