The implementation of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan- Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project could take decades given the security problems in transit countries, US expert on Central Asia Bruce Pannier believes.
“Conflict in Afghanistan shows no signs of abating, in fact fighting has been spreading through the country this year, including in areas along the border with Turkmenistan,” Pannier told Trend.
The situation is not much better in southern Pakistan’s Baluchistan region, which the pipeline is planned to go through, according to the expert.
“That is why I cannot see this project being realized anytime soon,” Pannier said.
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov signed a decree Nov. 7 ordering to design and construct the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline’s section that is to run through Turkmenistan. The document also stipulates to start TAPI’s construction in December 2015 and hand over facilities fully ready for commissioning in December 2018.
“President Berdymukhammedov has been saying all year that construction would start before the end of this year so I am not surprised he has signed the order for work to begin,” Pannier said.
Solemn groundbreaking ceremony of TAPI gas pipeline will take place on December 13, 2015. Turkmen section of TAPI gas pipeline is expected to be built in 2 years.
“The pipeline eventually might even be laid as far as the border with Afghanistan but that is where it will end and it could be many years before the pipeline moves across the Afghan border toward Pakistan and India,” Pannier said.
Answering the question why Turkmenistan starts construction despite existing security problems in transit countries, Pannier said that there isn't much Turkmenistan can do.
“The Turkmen government has been speaking publicly about the need and success in diversifying gas exports for years so Ashgabat needs to show the people something is happening. And, if and when the day comes when a new customer appears, Turkmenistan will have at least completed its part of the infrastructure needed to transport the gas,” Pannier said.
It is planned that the total length of the TAPI pipeline will be 1,735 kilometers. Some 200 kilometers will pass through the territory of Turkmenistan, 735 kilometers - Afghanistan, 800 kilometers - Pakistan up to Fazilka settlement on the border with India. The annual capacity of the gas pipeline will be 33 billion cubic meters.The gas pipeline is to stretch from the largest Galkynysh gas field in Turkmenistan.
The estimated cost of the project will be up to $10 billion.
The basic document for the promotion of TAPI is the Ashgabat interstate agreement signed between the participating states in 2010 on starting the practical implementation of this project.
Turkmengaz State Concern, Afghan Gas Corporation, Pakistan’s "Inter State Gas Systems (Private) Limited" and Indian "GAIL (India) Limited" established TAPI Ltd. consortium in November 2014. It will be engaged in construction and subsequent operation of the TAPI gas pipeline. Turkmenistan’s Turkmengaz state concern was selected the consortium’s leader.
TAPI project has been discussed for over 10 years already. However, the project’s implementation was cancelled for several times due to the security problems in the transit countries.