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Monday 20 June 2011

Price debate haunts TAPI pipeline


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ISLAMABAD (UPI) – With a gas sales purchase agreement on the horizon, concerns over pricing issues for a natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan linger, sources said.

The planned 1,680 km Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline is to deliver gas from the Dauletabad (دولت آباد) gas field in Turkmenistan. The Western-backed project is seen as an alternative to Irans plans to ship gas eastward from its South Pars gas complex.

Multilateral talks over the TAPI pipeline hit a snag in the Philippines, however, over pricing concerns. Sources told Pakistani newspaper The News International that Ashgabat (عشق آباد) wanted a different price for each party, while consumer nations wanted a fixed price for natural gas.

The price concerns come as Tehran said last week it was relaxing its stance on the South Pars project. Officials said it would likely be a bilateral route with Pakistan.

Backers at the Asian Development Bank said they were optimistic that construction of the TAPI pipeline would be finished in time to deliver gas as early as 2016.

Sources to The News said despite the price concerns, a gas sales purchasing agreement could be signed by the end of July.

The Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline (TAP or TAPI) is a proposed natural gas pipeline being developed by the Asian Development Bank. The pipeline will transport Caspian Sea natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India. The abbreviation comes from the first letters of those countries. Proponents of the project see it as a modern continuation of the Silk Road. The Afghan government is expected to receive 8% of the project’s revenue.

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