TAPI pipeline countries to select consortium leader in early 2015 – report

TAPI pipeline countries to select consortium leader in early 2015 – report

A group of four countries proposing to develop a natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India through Afghanistan will select a company to spearhead the ambitious project early next year, the official Turkmen daily reported on Friday.

Turkmenistan, which holds the world’s fourth-largest natural gas reserves, has long sought to diversify its exports of the fuel away from former imperial master Russia.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Central Asian nation has been keen to develop the proposed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project.

A decision has been taken to choose potential partners and a leader for the TAPI project before early February 2015, official Turkmen daily Neutral Turkmenistan reported on Friday, citing consultations held this week among energy officials of the four countries.

A steering committee will set a tender date to select the leader for the TAPI consortium, the report said, but provided no further details.

Last week, Turkmenistan’s state gas firm Turkmengas, Afghan Gas Enterprise, Pakistan’s Inter State Gas Systems and Indian state-run utility GAIL set up a company to build, own and operate the TAPI pipeline.

An international energy major selected at the tender will take a significant stake in the consortium and will sign a contract for at least 20 years with the four-nation group, Turkmen Deputy Prime Minister Baymurad Khodjamukhamedov told an energy conference in Ashgabat this week.

“This company will be tasked with attracting investment to the project,” he said. Turkmenistan’s government estimates the cost of TAPI at about $10 billion.

The United States has repeatedly expressed its support for the proposed 1,735-km (1,084-mile) pipeline which would carry annually up to 33 billion cubic metres of gas for 30 years.

But critics have pointed to the chronic instability of Afghanistan as the pipeline would have to cross 735 km (559 miles) of its territory.



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