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Swaraj in Turkmenistan for vital TAPI gas pipeline talks

Swaraj in Turkmenistan for  vital TAPI gas pipeline talks
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Swaraj will co-chair the fifth India-Turkmenistan Inter- Governmental Joint Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation with her Turkmen counterpart Rashid Meredov on Wednesday. She was received at the airport by Turkmenistan’s deputy foreign Minister Berdy Matiyev, Indian Ambassador T V Nagendra Prasad and others.

She will also call on Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. This is her first visit to Turkmenistan after assuming charge last year.

Key bilateral and regional issues, including trade and the ambitious Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, are expected to be discussed during the joint commission meeting. The gas project is a 1,680 km-pipeline with design capacity to supply 3.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per annum from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

TAPI will carry gas from Turkmenistan’s Galkynysh field 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’s Multan via Quetta. It will end at Fazilka (Punjab) in India. The pipeline will have a capacity to carry 90 million standard cubic metres a day (mmscmd) gas for a 30-year period and is expected to be operational by 2018. India and Pakistan would get 38 mmscmd each, while the remaining 14 mmscmd will be supplied to Afghanistan.

TAPI project has remained on the 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.

At the 20th Steering Committee meeting of TAPI project in Pakistan in February, India had pressed Turkmenistan to relax its domestic law to help get an international firm for building the project.

At the meeting, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan reiterated “India’s commitment to source natural gas from Turkmenistan through TAPI natural gas pipeline project and made a renewed pitch for the expeditious appointment of a mutually acceptable Consortium Leader, which is a vital step in the implementation of the project, in a time bound manner.” In the last joint commission meeting in January 2013, India and Turkmenistan had agreed to take necessary steps for early realisation of the TAPI project and increase trade.
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