The US has backed multi-billion TAPI pipeline project to transport natural gas from Turkmenistan to India, with a top official saying that the pipeline would support the energy independence of the countries in the region.
"We see that the TAPI gas pipeline is particularly important because it's going to join two of the most important end-points in this regional connectivity that we talk about, Turkmenistan and India," said Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake.
The pipeline, called TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India), would pass through Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"India, of course, has gigantic energy needs because of its fast-growing economy. They need lots of gas. I think that is what really helped drive this project. There is now a real market in India and they can afford to pay for the gas. Turkmenistan has sufficient gas to fuel this pipeline," said Blake, who is currently on a trip to Central Asia.
The US backing for the pipeline comes in the backdrop of Washington's plea to the countries of the region to reduce their dependence on the Iranian oil and gas.
The pipeline, Blake said, would also provide significant transit revenues for both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"That is also quite important to this vision that I talked earlier about for Afghanistan. So, in terms of the pipeline I think there has been good progress on what they call gas sale-purchase agreements between these countries," he said.
"The next milestone is that there will be a road show that will take place sometime in September, at which they will begin to have concrete discussions about who is going to form and lead this consortium to actually build this pipeline. This is a crucial series of discussions that will take place," he said, adding that the American companies would also be participating in the road show.
The road show, he said, will be going to the United States but also other countries as well. Many American companies are very interested in participating.
"There are a lot of risks to participating in such a pipeline. Part of their consideration will be what kind of incentives Turkmenistan will be prepared to offer international companies to get involved in that project. We will see when the road show takes place," Blake said.