“With gas prices falling, the Steering Committee for TAPI project has woken up”

As the West steps up efforts to enforce sanctions on Iran, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan- India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, a competitor to the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, has come back to life.

“With gas prices falling, the Steering Committee for the TAPI project has woken up. An Indian team to discuss technical issues has just returned to the country,” said government sources.

“There is some smart gas diplomacy being done by Turkmenistan. They have been talking about pipelines with Europe, but are keen on India. Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov also made this observation during his visit here in May this year,” they added.

India has also received feelers from the Turkmen President for a summit on the issue. This will be preceded by a meeting of the Oil Ministers of the four participating countries. But before that, officials would have to sort out several issues, including the one raised by Pakistan about securing the pipeline.

“It is a great asset from the point of view of energy security. But the issue of security will add up to the cost,” said the sources. The issue of security is of concern to the planners because the pipeline's proposed route is near south-west of Afghanistan, where Taliban is active.

The talks on security will be followed by discussions on the mechanics of construction, a global tender and a business model. These aspects will be grandfathered by the Asian Development Bank, which is taking keen interest in the project. “We have to continue talks on this, because the IPI seems stalled,” the official said.

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