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Afghanistan Agrees to Rejoin TAPI Project

Saturday 7 April 2012

ISLAMABAD (Pakistan Observer, Akhtar Jamal) – With a positive signal from Asian Development Bank the ministers from Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan are now scheduled to meet on May 24, in Ashgabat and make some real progress on long awaited pipeline project.

Wahidullah Shahrani

Recently there were reports that Afghanistan had opted to come out of the project but on April 4, 2012 the Afghanistan minister has indicated that his country was ready to go ahead with the project. The Afghan Minister for Mines Wahidullah Shahrani (وحیدالله شهرانی), who visited Ashgabat on April 4, has had “productive talks” with Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov on the project and there was clear indication that Kabul was ready to fulfil its commitment. Following an agreement signed by the presidents of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Turkmenistan in 2010, a feasibility study for TAPI gas pipeline has already been completed and work on the project’s design is expected to finish soon.

After Shahrani’s meeting with Turkmen President Berdimuhamedov and vice-president, energy minister and other officials on the multi-billion dollars pipeline, it has now been decided that Pakistani, Indian, Afghan and Turkmen ministers, as well as an Asian Development Bank representative would meet in Ashgabat on May 24 to make progress on the project. An Afghan official Friday confirmed that “It will be the last meeting on finalising TAPI documents and it will decide the fate of the project.”

It is believed that ADB is now ready to share the part of investment cost which has now been estimated as $10 billion.

The 1,680 km long TAPI pipeline which will stretch from Turkmenistan’s Dauletabad (دولت آباد) gas field though Afghanistan’s Helmand and Kandahar provinces, will reach Pakistan’s city of Multan and end at the north-western Indian town of Fazilka.

The Afghan government is expected to earn $350 to $400 million in transit fees from the export of gas per annum. Informed sources told this correspondent that Afghanistan had demanded an increased share.

Under the agreement Pakistan and India’s share of gas is 38.7 million m³/day each.

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