Fate of TAPI project hangs in the balance


The PTI government has seriously objected to this agreement and asked Turkmenistan that the existing agreement is not in the interest of the country

Special Report

ISLAMABAD: The Turkmen Gas Company on the much touted trans-nations (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) TAPI gas pipeline project of worth $10 billion even after the lapse of 5 years has so far failed to achieve financial closure as earlier it was scheduled to be attained in December 2016. (TAPI) pipeline will be a 1,814km trans-country natural gas pipeline running across four countries. Designed to serve for 30 years, the pipeline was expected to commence operations in 2021. It was expected to transport 33 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas a year

Now the authorities concerned in Pakistan are saying that Turkmenistan Gas Company is now tasked to complete the financial closure in 2021 which is why the project will come on stream in 2023 which was earlier due to be operational in 2020 under its original plan. Though the Turkmenistan authorities in its territory has laid down the 200 kilometers from Gylkynish—the gas field to Turkmen-Afghan border, but they have not achieved the financial closure of the project.

Sources believe, TAPI may not see the light of the day because India is involved in this project. Turkmenistan is keen to keep India as part of the project, despite negative vibes from Islamabad. A govt source told on the condition of not being named that Indian presence in the project has caused delays in the implementation and if India remains there, this project may never complete.

The Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline (TAPI), also known as Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline, is a natural gas pipeline being developed by the Galkynysh – TAPI Pipeline Company Limited with participation of the Asian Development Bank. The pipeline will transport natural gas from the Galkynysh Gas Field in Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India. Construction on the project started in Turkmenistan on 13 December 2015, work on the Afghan section began in February 2018, and work on the Pakistani section was planned to commence in December 2018.

Unless and until the Turkmen authorities change the agreement about the gas delivery point and review about the gas prices, Pakistan will not give its ownership to the project. Under the existing agreement, Turkmenistan will provide the gas to Pakistan at Turkmen-Afghan border and the gas transit loss in the territory of Afghanistan will be borne by Pakistan. However, the PTI government has seriously objected to this agreement and asked Turkmenistan that the existing agreement is not in the interest of the country. The government said that Pakistan’s liabilities will only be invoked when the gas is delivered at Pak-Afghan border not at Turkmen-Afghan border and Pakistan will not be responsible for any gas loss during transit through territory of Afghanistan.

The sources said the government of Pakistan has already constituted a Price Negotiation Committee for TAPI gas. Sources say the project may be commissioned by end of 2023 if everything goes well. Technical discussions on gas price are ongoing between the Petroleum Division and the Turkmen side. Sources say that Pakistani side is rather more interested in CASA 1000 gas project, which is already at an advanced stage. The President of Tajikistan Imomali Rahmon was in Pakistan few weeks ago and besides other thing the progress on CASA 1000 was also discussed threadbare. Tajikistan is a key partner in CASA 1000 along with Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. It is basically Tajik gas that will come to Pakistan, at highly competitive rates.