Vice President M Hamid Anasri, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and leaders from Turkmenistan and Afghanistan broke new ground in the ambitious USD 7.6 billion TAPI pipeline project in Turkmenistan. The multi-billion project is set to provide much needed gas to India to run its power plants.
Anasri, who is on a three day visit to Turkmenistan, flew to the ancient city of Mary, 311 km from the capital Asghabat, to attend the ground-breaking ceremony of the 1800-kilometre-long TAPI gas pipeline. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow were also present at the ceremony.
Leaders from all the four TAPI countries pushed a button which started the welding process of the pipes. They later signed the pipe and a document which was put in a capsule and placed under the ground.
At the ceremony, Ansari called the project a “reflection of desire” and called for cooperation among all the stakeholders.
“…We must recognise that the forces of violence and disruption can no longer be allowed to threaten the quest for economic development and security of our people…I am confident that with the active engagement of all four governments, and the support of our international partners, we can overcome such challenges,” said the Indian Vice President.
He also appreciated the role of ministers and officials who worked hard to achieve these goals. He praised Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, calling him an example of a new generation of politicians.
Turkmenistan President Berdimuhamedow hoped that the project would be operational by December 2019. He spoke on the importance of making energy available at the least possible cost to the largest sections of his people.
PM Sharif said the TAPI project will lead the way and open doors for similar projects connecting Central Asia with energy-starved South Asia. He also urged other countries to participate in the China-Pakistan economic corridor as it would help them connect with the ports of Pakistan for greater economic activity.
Afghan President Ghani hailed the ceremony as a historic event and said that the project will help reestablish old ties between nations.
According to Ghani, the 4 TAPI countries will be connected by fibre optic cable and a power transmission line will also connect Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The TAPI pipeline will have the capacity to carry 90 million standard cubic metres a day (mmscmd) gas for a 30-year period. India and Pakistan are set to get 38 mmscmd each. India’s state gas utility GAIL has signed a Gas Sales and Purchase Agreement (GSPA) with Turkmengaz for import of 38 mmscmd of natural gas for 30 years. However, with Afghanistan agreeing to take approx 1.5-4 mmscmd against the original agreed volume of 14 mmscmd, the Indian volumes may increase to 43-44.25 mmscmd.
The TAPI pipeline will carry gas from Turkmenistan’s Galkynysh field that holds gas reserves of 16 trillion cubic feet. From there, the pipeline will run to Herat and Kandahar in Afghanistan, before entering Pakistan. It will then head to Multan via Quetta in Pakistan before ending at Fazilka (Punjab) in India.
TAPI is set to provide an alternative supply source of gas with dependable reserves leading to enhanced energy security. Experts say it will further diversify the fuel basket to the benefit of the Indian economy.
(With inputs from PTI)