Turkmenistan part of TAPI pipeline ready

Turkmenistan part of TAPI pipeline ready

The much-delayed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline is becoming a reality with the Turkmenistan portion of the strategically important project being ready.

A consortium TAPI Pipeline Co. Ltd (TPCL) is developing the project with the majority share of 85% owned by Turkmenistan. State-run firms Türkmengaz, Afghan Gas Enterprise, Pakistan’s Inter State Gas Systems (Pvt.) Ltd, and GAIL (India) Ltd are stakeholders in the $10 billion project, also dubbed the peace pipeline.

The project also holds the key to an ‘economically integrated region’ spanning from the Bay of Bengal to the Caspian Sea, as articulated by Hamid Ansari, India’s vice-president in December 2015 at the ground breaking ceremony of the pipeline.

“The Turkmen line is ready and the target of 2019 should be achieved,” said an Indian government official requesting anonymity.

While Afghanistan, Pakistan and India share a complex relationship, this development comes at a time when the vexed relationship between India and Pakistan is at a low.

The 1,814km pipeline has been hanging fire for long for reasons including the absence of an anchor investor and safety of the pipeline as it passes through Afghanistan and Balochistan in Pakistan, which are considered to be unstable.

Another Indian government official, who also did not want to be named, confirmed the initial portion of the pipeline has been built.

The pipeline, which originates in Turkmenistan’s Galkynysh field and ends at Fazilka in Punjab in India, is supposed to travel mostly through Afghanistan (773km) and Pakistan (827km). Of the pipeline’s 90 million standard cu. metre per day (mscmd) of natural gas capacity, 38 mscmd is planned for supply to India for a period of 30 years.

Experts believe it is a welcome move and good for the Indian economy.

“India has enough appetite in the economy for natural gas. So demand will not be a constraint. The concern, however, is at what price it gets delivered,” said R.S. Sharma, former chairman and managing director of state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd.

India’s domestic gas production fell by 5% to 33.65 billion cu. metres (bcm) from 35.40 bcm. According to a report by consultancy firm EY, India’s 39 cu. metres per capita of natural gas consumption lags far behind the world average of 469 cu. metre per capita consumption. The country’s share of natural gas in the primary energy mix is also far behind the global average especially due to a sharp drop in domestic production.

Queries emailed to spokespersons of India’s ministries of external affairs, petroleum and natural gas, GAIL (India) Ltd, Turkmenistan embassy and Turkmenistan’s oil and gas ministry on 7 September remained unanswered.

The inter-governmental agreement between the four nations was signed in December 2010 and the pipeline was initially slated to be commissioned by 2016.

“The technical study of the TAPI project has estimated an overall project duration of 6 years 9 months from the start of the Front End Engineering Design (FEED) process till handing over of the pipeline for commercial operation,” petroleum and natural gas minister DharmendraPradhan informed the RajyaSabha in a written reply on 13 December 2015.

The landfall point of the pipeline in India, Fazilka, and the areas in Punjab is expected to develop rapidly given the anticipated spur of industrial and commercial activities.

This comes at a time when the National Democratic Alliance led government’s plans to move towards clean energy sources with a target of natural gas contributing 15% to India’s energy mix.


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