Construction of the much-delayed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (Tapi) gas pipeline will begin next week, with Indian leaders expected to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the $10 billion project in Ashgabat, according to a media report.
Mobin Saulat, managing director of Interstate Gas Systems Private Ltd, the Pakistani company responsible for importing gas through the pipeline, was quoted by the website of Dawn newspaper as saying that work on the venture will begin on December 13.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian and Afghan leaders will attend the groundbreaking ceremony, the report said.
Interstate Gas Systems, Turkmenistan’s Turkmengas, the Afghan Gas Enterprise and India’s Gail Limited have equal shareholding in the Tapi Pipeline Company Limited (TPCL). The project was envisaged some 25 years ago.
India and Pakistan will get more than 1.3 billion cubic feet per day of gas from Tapi while Afghanistan will get 0.5 billion cubic feet, Saulat said. India will pay between $200million and $250 million in transit fees to Pakistan while Pakistan will pay the same amount in transit fees to Afghanistan, he added.
Turkmenistan’s official newspaper said the government expects the gas link, with an annual capacity of 33 billion cubic metres, to be fully operational by the end of 2018. Gas supply to Pakistan will begin the following year.
Pakistan and India have both purchased 5% shares of the Tapi project,
Saulat said. Turkmenistan has also reached an agreement with Japan to develop its gas fields.
The pipeline will stretch 1,800 km and is expected to cost more than $10 billion.
Earlier this month, Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov ordered state companies to begin building his country’s section of the pipeline.
The report said uncertainty hangs over the project. Aside from risks associated with a pipeline traversing war-torn Afghanistan, the four-country consortium is yet to confirm the participation of a foreign commercial partner to help finance it.
The project is politically complex and will pass through areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan that are dominated by Taliban and separatist insurgents.