India has not yet finalised its view on gas price

Petroleum Minister Murli Deora is flying to Ashgabat on Thursday to ink two agreements that will cover operational aspects and give political backing for the proposed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. Mr. Deora said it would be a great synergy for all the four nations coming together to sign a deal that would strengthen regional bonding. The Inter-Government Agreement and the Gas Pipeline Transmission Agreement would give a new fillip to the ambitious project.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Asif Ali Zardari and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai will sign the agreements on behalf of their countries. Mr. Deora will do the honours in the absence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who will be away in Belgium for the India-EU Summit.

Turkmenistan proposes charging different prices for supply of natural gas through a 1,680-km pipeline, which will deliver 90 million cubic metres a day to India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

India is expected to get about 35 mmscmd (million metric standard cubic metre per day), the same as Pakistan. The rest of the gas will go to Afghanistan.

Mr. Deora said India had not firmed up its view on gas price as the focus was on signing the two agreements, likely on December 10. “The pricing issue will come when the consuming nations sign the GSPA [Gas Sale Purchase Agreement] with Turkmenistan, expected at a later date.”

Private partner

Mr. Deora said the four nations had, in principle, agreed to outsource the execution and management of the $7.6-billion project to a global energy consortium, selected through competitive bidding.

The decision to induct a private partner was taken after Afghanistan agreed to make secure the pipeline through the Taliban heartland and Pakistan in principle agreed to do so in its territory.

The pipeline will originate from the Dauletabad gas-field in southeast Turkmenistan.

More In: Economy | Business | National | News