Islamabad: Pakistan and Turkmenistan have signed a joint implementation plan to accelerate the long-stalled Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project.
The signing ceremony took place in Islamabad on Thursday and was attended by Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and a delegation from Turkmenistan led by Maksat Babayev, Turkmenistan State Minister and Chairman of state-owned gas producer Turkmengas.
PM Shehbaz Sharif said that the TAPI project was significant for the progress of the region, stating that it would ensure a secure supply of natural gas with mutually agreed terms and conditions.
Extending the government’s support for the early completion of the gas pipeline project, he said that “Pakistan wants the project to be implemented at the fastest speed”.
The completion of the TAPI project “will be a game-changer for the region in terms of enhanced economic cooperation.” He added that Pakistan is exploring all options to procure energy on a sustainable basis to meet the country’s urgent energy needs, keeping in view of costlier fuel prices and gas shortages globally.
Accelerating project and resolving issues
The accord, signed by Pakistan’s Minister of State for Petroleum Dr. Musadik Malik and Turkmenistan’s State Minister Maksat Babayev, aims to expedite the work on the four-nation TAPI gas project.
The project envisions transporting natural gas from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India through an 1,800-km pipeline with a capacity of 33 billion cubic meters annually.
“TAPI is a transformation agenda for the region, not just a pipeline,” said Minister Malik, emphasising the energy potential of Turkmenistan.
Pakistani prime minister met with the Turkmenistan delegation separately and discussed further ways to enhance economic relations and strategic cooperation in the energy sector between the two states.
Sharif expressed his commitment to the early implementation of the TAPI project, appointing a special assistant Dr. Jehanzeb Khan as the focal person from Pakistan’s side to expedite and facilitate the project activities. The two sides also discussed the progress on Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan (TAP) power transmission line project.
The pipeline project
The multi-billion dollar Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project aims to transport gas from Turkmenistan’s Galkynysh, the world’s second-largest gas field, to Pakistan and onwards. The pipeline will span approximately 1,800km and pass through Afghanistan. The TAPI inter-governmental agreement was signed in December 2010, however, the project remained stalled because of technical and financial issues and instability in Afghanistan.
The pipeline is expected to carry 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas each year, from which Pakistan and India would purchase 42 per cent each of the TAPI gas flows. The pipeline will originate in southeast Turkmenistan and traverse Afghanistan, including the cities of Herat and Kandahar, before entering Pakistan through Chaman, Zhob and Multan. It will finally reach Fazilka in India’s Punjab region near the Pakistan border.