Stating that Chinese have been very aggressive in securing their energy security needs from the Central Asian Region, India has strongly batted for giving a big push to the $7.6 billion Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India (TAPI) pipeline to make the project operational by 2017.
Noting that China had already operationalised its gas pipeline from Turkmenistan and was in the process of initiating work on the second pipeline, the Ministry of Finance has written to the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry and the Indian Ambassador to Turkmenistan that in light of the developments and aggression by the Chinese, India may need to take concerted action to ensure that the pace of implementation of the TAPI project is speeded up.
At a recent meeting of the Regional Technical Groups on “Regional Infrastructure” of Confidence Building Measures (RI-CBM) held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, the TAPI project was extensively discussed. The Indian delegation was led by the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Finance Ministry.
During the meeting, India was of the view that TAPI project should be fast tracked as the progress so far has been very modest. It was pointed out that a consortium to implement the project should have been in place by September this year but that has not happened.
It was suggested that a timeline and milestone based system of project monitoring be put in place to ensure that the pace of implementation is expedited. While Afghanistan strongly supports the suggestion, it was opposed by Pakistan and as a result it was not included in the final draft recommendations of the meeting.
The meeting was held with the objective to consolidate international, regional and national efforts for development of new and reconstruction of existing infrastructure to facilitate economic stability and integration in the heart of Asian region. India has been an active participant in this process and has special interest in the construction of TAPI project. Being the richest country in natural gas availability in Central Asia and located in India’s extended neighbourhood, the TAPI project is very import for India’s energy security.
The 1735 km TAPI pipeline will have a capacity to carry 90 million metric standard cubic metres a day (mmscmd) of gas for a 30-year period and is likely to become operational by August 2017. India and Pakistan would get 38 mmscmd each, while the remaining 14 mmscmd will be supplied to Afghanistan. The pipeline will run from the Turkmenistan gas fields to Afghanistan. It will start from the Dauletabad gas fields and run into Afghanistan alongside the highway running from Heart to Kandahar and then via Quetta and Multan in Pakistan. The final destination of the pipeline will be Fazilka near the India-Pakistan border.