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Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline gets go-ahead

29 May 2012

On May 24, India and Pakistan signed a long-awaited natural gas deal with Turkmenistan, paving the way for the construction of a multi-billion dollar 1,700-kilometre pipeline through Afghanistan. Under the agreement, Turkmenistan, with the world’s fourth largest natural gas reserves, will supply 30 billion cubic metres of gas annually to energy-hungry consumers in Pakistan and India, as well as relieving shortages in Afghanistan.

The TAPI pipeline will carry gas from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India
The TAPI pipeline will carry gas from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India

The Asian Development Bank played a leading role over the past decade in coordinating and facilitating the four-nation talks on the project. 

"I think it is an excellent development. It is a win-win situation for everybody," said Warner Liepach, the bank's country director for Pakistan. "It will bring prosperity to the region; it makes the people talk to each other. So we are very happy, very upbeat about this."

The idea for a pipeline connecting the four nations was first put forward in the early 1990s, but civil war in Afghanistan prevented its realization. The project is expected to be completed within five years, at an estimated cost of $7.6 billion.

Pakistan said it is also making parallel efforts to import natural gas from neighboring Iran through a bilateral pipeline project. The United States, which is trying to isolate Iran internationally over Tehran’s controversial nuclear program, opposes the project.

But Pakistan's Petroleum Minister Asim Hussain again dismissed US demands that his country abandon the Iranian gas deal, describing the US pressure as irrelevant and saying Pakistan will pursue every available option to meet its growing energy needs.

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