Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) Pipeline Project: From Dream to Reality

Turkmenistan currently exports gas to Russia, Iran and China. TAPI will provide alternative for exporting energy resources to other countries too.

The long awaited Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline construction process started on 13th of December from Turkmenistan in a ceremony organized by Turkmen Government where Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari participated along with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Shariff, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, they all together pressed the button and signed the documents to begin the wielding process of the TAPI gas pipeline.

TAPI is expected to meet the growing energy needs of South Asia. TAPI gas pipeline project has been described by the participant countries as the 'Pipeline of Peace' and a ‘Reflection of Desire’. The implementation of TAPI project will bring Central Asia and South Asia much closer. TAPI can become a best example of growing regional integration process. TAPI can support by providing natural gas for fulfilling the economic development plans and implement clean energy program.

The Davletabad deposits, which contain 1.4 trillion cubic meters (tcm) of gas, can supply with the necessary volumes of gas. Currently, experts estimate Turkmenistan’s total geological reserves as 71.21 billion tons of equivalent fuel, of which 53.01 billion tons are land reserves and 18.2 billion tons are offshore reserves. Turkmen government source report mentioned that, the proven gas reserves are estimated at 25.213 trillion of cubic meters. Turkmenistan’s energy potential has been estimated lately as 45.44 billion tons of equivalent fuel. The TAPI pipeline starting from Turkmenistan’s Davletabad gas fields passing through Herat and Kandahar will follow Afghanistan’s Ring Road. Further, the pipeline would extend to the cities of Quetta and Multan in Pakistan and connect to the Indian city of Fazilka at the Indo-Pakistan border. The 1800 km. pipeline can carry 90 million standard cubic meters of gas a day for 30 years period. India and Pakistan are expected to get 38 million metric standard cubic meters per day mmscmd each. The $7.6 billion, TAPI pipeline first supplies are planned for 2019. TAPI pipeline offers benefits to all four participating states and has the potential to bring regional countries closer to each other improving the connectivity and linkages.

Turkmenistan currently exports gas to Russia, Iran and China. Nonetheless, TAPI will provide alternative for exporting energy resources to other countries too. TAPI is expected to move beyond traditional adversaries between the neighbouring countries, as this project addresses and emphasises on the economic development and energy security concerns above geopolitics. This pipeline project with the governmental support from all the four participating countries along with the external support by the regional development agencies is considered beneficial for all the participants.

TAPI pipeline is also expected to provide new business opportunities for the gas and engineering industries. ADB (Asian Development Bank) is leading stakeholder of the project. Oil and gas firms such as Chevron, Exxon, Gazprom are also part of the project apart from National Oil Companies (NOC) of the participant countries. All the participant countries involved their NOC’s in this project. For example, Gas Authority of India, Interstate Gas System from Pakistan; Afghan Gas Enterprise from Afghanistan and Turkmen-Gaz from Turkmenistan formed a joint venture named TAPI Pipeline Company Limited for working jointly in this project. Though, current security conditions in Afghanistan & Pakistan is of concern, but intensified contacts on addressing security issues established among the four participants of this project indicate growing partnership and support for TAPI. Physical connectivity and access to energy resources is one of the important elements of the India-Turkmen bilateral partnership and TAPI is a key project in this sphere. At present, the debate on TAPI indicates that TAPI will be successful provided all the stakeholders work together to ensure that negative forces hostile to the success of this project be taken care in an appropriate manner, as any violence or disruption can threaten prosperity of the region that is expected to come through TAPI. Support of local government and cooperation of all the partners are important to address the security challenges as well as ensure technical and commercial viability of the project to make energy available at the low cost to the larger sections of the regional population by the end of 2019.

The discourse among the policy makers in India on TAPI is that it will enhance India’s ‘Connect Central Asia’ policy and will also boost new regionalism reviving the ancient Silk Route connectivity. During the last (22nd) steering committee meeting of TAPI held at Ashgabat on 6th - 8th of August 2015, it was decided that with a 51% shareholding, Turkmen-Gaz would be the consortium leader and the other national oil companies would hold equal shares of the remaining 49%. Now the TAPI project seems to be moving in the right direction. As TAPI’s success is win-win for all the participant countries, it is expected that the attitude of all the four partners will be to complete this project as fast as possible and make this as a politically and economically viable mission. TAPI dream project is now becoming reality with the political will, positive diplomatic decision and close cooperation.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.