ASHGABAT: A delegation led by Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran on Petroleum Nadeem Babar departed for Ashgabat on Sunday for Turkmenistan to participate in the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline meeting.
Groundbreaking of the TAPI gas pipeline will be held in Pakistan in October, according to sources. The Pakistani delegation is travelling to Turkmenistan to finalise the plans for the groundbreaking of the project.
The TAPI gas pipeline project is expected to be completed by 2022 in Pakistan. Once completed; Pakistan is expected to receive 1.320 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas.
The TAPI project, supported by the United States and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), has been touted by Turkmenistan since the 1990s. But the start of work was delayed because of the problem of crossing Afghanistan.
The ADB is acting as the facilitator and coordinator for the project. It is 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.
The pipeline will run for hundreds of kilometers (miles) through areas of southern Afghanistan largely controlled by Taliban fighting the Western-backed government in Kabul but the movement has signaled that it will not hinder the project.
Ex-Soviet Turkmenistan holds the world’s fourth-largest natural gas reserves but has been heavily dependent on gas exports to China after Russia cut back gas imports in the past few years.
The project is expected to transport 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas a year along an 1,800 kilometer route from Galkynysh, the world’s second-biggest gas field, to Fazilka near the border with Pakistan in northern India.
Afghanistan, which suffers from chronic energy shortages, is expected to take five 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.