Millennium Post

India, other Tapi members set 3 months to 'fix issues'

The four-nations to the TAPI pipeline, who met in Ashgabat (Turkmenistan) decided to start work on the project by 2015.

'It was decided that the next meeting of the Steering Committee will be held in February 2015 in Islamabad. It was also agreed that remaining issues will be addressed before the meeting,' said an official statement issued after the 19th meeting of TAPI Steering Committee where Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan represented India.

'All sides agreed that steps will be taken to start the project by 2015,' it said.

Besides Pradhan, the TAPI Steering Committee Meeting was attended by Petroleum Ministers of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Asian Development Bank (ADB), which is the transaction advisor to facilitate the project, also participated in the meeting.

Pradhan used the sidelines of the meeting to hold bilateral talks with Pakistani Oil Minister Jam Kamal Khan to discuss expediting the TAPI project, as also the possibility of supply of LNG to Pakistan from India.

He discussed TAPI in separate bilateral meetings with Afghanistan Minister for Mines and Mineral Resources Barikzai. TAPI project has remained on drawing board since the four nations have not been able to get an international firm to head a consortium, which will lay and operate the pipeline.

French giant Total SA had initially envisaged interest in leading a consortium of national oil companies of the four nations in the TAPI project, but backed off after Turkmenistan refused to accept its condition of a stake in the gas field that will feed the pipeline. Since the four state-owned firms, including GAIL of India, neither have the financial muscle nor the experience of cross-country line, an international company that will build and also operate the line in hostile territories of Afghanistan and Pakistan, is needed. Sources said Turkmenistan has clearly indicated that its law does not provide for giving foreign firms an equity stake in upstream gas field, without which western energy giants will not be interested to take the risk.

The TAPI pipeline will have a capacity to carry 90 million standard cubic metres a day (mmscmd) gas for a 30-year period and will be operational in 2018. India and Pakistan would get 38 mmscmd each, while the remaining 14 mmscmd will be supplied to Afghanistan.

TAPI will carry gas from Turkmenistan's Galkynysh field, better known by its previous name South Yoiotan Osman that holds gas reserves of 16 trillion cubic feet. From the field, the pipeline will run to Herat and Kandahar province of Afghanistan, before entering Pakistan. In Pakistan, it will reach Multan via Quetta before ending at Fazilka (Punjab) in India.

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