TAPI project: India pushes for early appointment of consortium leader
India asks Turkmenistan to ease rules; Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan also wants early implementation of the project
Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Wednesday pitched for early selection and appointment of a leader to head the consortium of companies to build the ambitious cross-country Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline.
Pradhan, in Islamabad to attend the 20th meeting of the TAPI Steering Committee “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,” the petroleum ministry said in a statement here.
It added Pradhan reiterated India’s commitment to source natural gas from Turkmenistan through TAPI and articulated the need for the project to be a win-win proposition for all participating countries.
Talks over the $10-billion pipeline project are currently stuck over the appointment of a leader of the consortium of state-owned gas utilities of the four nations, including India’s GAIL (India) Ltd, to build the pipeline. The project aims to transport 90 mscmd of gas over 30 years from Turkmenistan to India via Afghanistan and Pakistan.
French firm Total SA had initially expressed interest in leading the consortium in the TAPI project. However, it backed off after Turkmenistan refused to accept its condition of a stake in the gas field that will feed the pipeline.
Since the four firms lack the financial wherewithal and the experience of cross-country line, an international company to build and operate the line in hostile territories of Afghanistan and Pakistan is needed.
“The very fact that India has had regular Ministerial representation at the TAPI Steering Committee Meeting bears testimony to the importance attached by the government to this project despite the apprehensions regarding geo-political situation and security scenario involving the project,” the statement said, adding that TAPI project will contribute to realising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of a national gas grid.
Pradhan also met Minister of Mines and Petroleum of Afghanistan and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the TAPI Steering Committee meeting. He was accompanied by a delegation including petroleum secretary Saurabh Chandra, High Commissioner of India in Islamabad apart from the Chairman of GAIL (India) and Managing Director of ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL).