TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) Pipeline | World Defense

TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) Pipeline


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Leaders Mark Start Of Work On Afghan Section Of TAPI Pipeline
February 23, 2018

Leaders and senior officials from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, and India have inaugurated the start of work on the Afghan part of a multibillion-dollar pipeline project that they hope will meet the region's energy needs.

The Afghan and Turkmen presidents, Ashraf Ghani and Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, were joined by Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and India's Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar in Afghanistan's western city of Herat for the groundbreaking ceremony for the Afghan section of the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) natural-gas pipeline.

"Galkynysh, the world's second-biggest gas field, will feed the TAPI pipeline," Berdymukhamedov told reporters gathered in a town near the Turkmen-Afghan border via a video link from Herat.

Turkmenistan holds the world's fourth-largest natural gas reserves but has been heavily dependent on gas exports to China after Russia cut back on gas imports in the last few years.

The planned 1,800-kilometer pipeline connecting Central Asia with South Asia is to carry 33 billion cubic meters of Turkmen natural gas annually for 30 years.

The total cost of the project, which is expected to take two years to complete, is estimated at $10 billion.

"A new chapter of economic growth and regional connectivity starts right here in the economic and cultural hub of #Afghanistan," Ghani wrote on Twitter after arriving in Herat on February 22.

Railway Link

Ghani and Berdymukhammedov were also expected to inaugurate work on the construction of a railway link between Afghanistan and Turkmenistan.

Heavy security will guard the pipeline construction through Afghanistan, said Jelani Farhad, a spokesman for the Herat provincial governor's office, on February 23.

Security personnel were deployed in sensitive areas across Herat for the opening ceremony, checking all vehicles entering the city.

"It's a golden day for Afghanistan today. It will help our economy and create thousands of jobs," Farhad said.

Backers of the TAPI pipeline say it will ease energy deficits in South Asia and help reduce tensions in the divided region.

Afghan officials say Kabul should earn some $500 million annually in transit duties and that the project should help create thousands of jobs.

However, security concerns over the project remain high as the Western-backed government in Kabul has been struggling to fend off the Taliban and other militant groups since the withdrawal of most NATO troops in 2014.

Turkmenistan started construction of its section of the pipeline in December 2015.

Taliban Support

The planned underground pipeline is intended to carry 33 billion cubic meters of gas annually alongside Afghanistan's Herat-Kandahar highway, then through Quetta and Multan in Pakistan and ending up at the India-Pakistan border town of Fazilka.

It would start from the Galkynysh Gas Field near the town of Yoloten in Turkmenistan's eastern province of Mary.

Officials say 5 billion cubic meters would go to Afghanistan and India, and Pakistan would buy around 14 billion.

Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan have all repeatedly stated their commitment to the project despite the tensions that New Delhi and Kabul have with Islamabad.

Pakistan is accused of not doing enough to stop terrorist groups from using its soil for attacks against the neighboring countries, which Islamabad denies.

Highlighting security concerns surrounding TAPI, officials in Herat Province on February 22 paraded a group of 10 Afghan militants claiming to have been trained by neighboring Iran to sabotage events related to the planned pipeline.

Herat Governor Mohammad Asif Rahimi told RFE/RL that the insurgents changed their minds at the last minute and surrendered.

Iranian officials have not commented on the claims.

The pipeline would mostly run through parts of Afghanistan where the Taliban has a strong presence. However, the main Taliban organization in the country has declared its support for TAPI, calling it an "important project" for the country.



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Afghan TAPI Construction Kicks Off, But Pipeline Questions Still Unresolved
February 23, 2018

Executives and regional leaders gathered for a ground-breaking ceremony for Afghanistan's section of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline on February 23 in the western Afghan city of Herat.

Herat, and uncertainty as the ceremony there approached, provide another reminder of the doubts and questions that have surrounded the TAPI pipeline for years now.

On February 20, Jailani Farhad, the spokesman for the Herat mayor, was quotedas saying the project would be inaugurated on February 25. China's Xinhua news agency seemed hesitant to provide an exact date at all, also reporting on February 20 that the "ceremony is expected to be held within coming days."

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov was visiting Mary on February 21. His country, of course, is the supplier of gas for TAPI; and given Turkmenistan's current dire economic situation (more on that below), it is in Berdymukhammedov's interest to see Afghanistan start construction of TAPI. Berdymukhammedov told officials that on February 23 "many important events" would take place, first of all the launch of construction on TAPI in Afghanistan but also the start of work to build a new high-voltage transmission power line and extend a railway from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan.

Berdymukhammedov indicated he would be at the ceremony in Herat but it was not mentioned in a report on the official Turkmen government website.

So one question was whether the Turkmen president would make the trip to Herat (he did); another was whether he would dress in his commando fatigues, as he did in videos last year, perhaps to frighten away militants.

Because security along the 744-kilometer section of the TAPI pipeline has been a huge question in recent years as fighting spread and intensified in previously relatively stable areas of northern Afghanistan. In fact, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan, known locally as Azadi, reported on February 22 that Herat officials said insurgents who were trained by Iran to disrupt the February 23 ceremony had switched sides and joined the government.

For what's it's worth, a spokesman for the Taliban and a Taliban splinter groupled by Rasul Akhund that operates in northwestern Afghanistan have both pledged to protect construction of TAPI through Afghan territory, since it is a "national project."

Given the government in Kabul's bold claims that TAPI would help bring prosperity and stability to Afghanistan, it is difficult to imagine any militant group in Afghanistan resisting the temptation to try to sabotage the project and keep the government from boosting its popularity and support in areas along the proposed TAPI route.

And the Taliban and the Taliban splinter group are not the only armed groups active in northern and western Afghanistan. There are other militant forces and warlords there as well.

What Afghanistan Gets

TAPI aims to carry some 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas a year, most of which is intended for markets in Pakistan and India.

Afghanistan should receive some 5 bcm of that gas, but equally if not more importantly, Afghanistan will receive transit fees from TAPI.

But how much?

The Afghan Voice Agency reported on February 19 that the amount would be "nearly $400 million" annually. Afghanistan's ToloNews reported on February 20 that "Afghanistan is expected to earn $500 million USD in transit duties annually from the project. Turkmen Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov promised in November that Afghanistan would receive some $1 billion annually in transit fees from TAPI.

Of course, Turkmenistan is experiencing the worst economic crisis of its 26-year history as an independent country, in large part due to the inability to sell Turkmenistan's major and nearly only export: gas. So Turkmen officials could be expected to say anything that would portray TAPI in a positive light, especially since financing for the project is still uncertain.

Who Will Pay For Construction?

State company Turkmengaz is the operator of TAPI. That means Turkmengaz must find some $8.5 billion of the estimated $10 billion it will cost to build TAPI. The company has no experience managing a major project outside Turkmenistan and so far has found it difficult to attract investors. The Islamic Development Bank already promised a loan of some $700 million, but that's where it ends.

Other countries and companies have reportedly expressed some interest in joining TAPI -- the China National Petroleum Corporation, Russia, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia -- but no contracts have been signed.

Turkmenistan alone cannot come up with the remaining almost $8 billion that Turkmengaz still needs to cover its share of the costs. And it will not have escaped the attention of potential foreign investors that Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, the countries that will also benefit from TAPI, have never gone beyond the 5 percent of costs ($500 million) that each is committed to spending -- showing, perhaps, that there are doubts about the viability of TAPI in Kabul, Islamabad, and New Delhi.

Another question that we're still looking for an answer to is whether Turkmenistan has completed its section of TAPI. There was a big launch ceremony in Turkmenistan in December 2015 for construction of the 214-kilometer portion on Turkmen territory. Turkmen officials have maintained since then that construction was progressing. But strangely, state media in Turkmenistan, which is obsessed with showing pictures and footage of the country's major projects, has not shown much proof of TAPI's construction. Once there were some photographs in 2016 of sections of pipe-laying in a desert that were alleged to be somewhere in eastern Turkmenistan.

But we're still waiting for clues from the February 23 ceremony in Herat to clear up that and other questions.

The views expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL



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Leaders Hail Gas Pipeline Project As Start Of Central-South Asia Corridor
February 24, 2018

Leaders from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan said a new pipeline being built between their countries is the start of a major new energy, road, and communications corridor connecting Central Asia with South Asia.

"South Asia is being connected with Central Asia through Afghanistan after more than a century of division," Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said at the inauguration on February 23 in his country's western city, Herat, of the $10 billion pipeline that should carry Turkmen gas to South Asia.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the pipeline would lead to the development of broader road, rail, and communications networks between the countries.

"It will lead from a gas pipeline into an energy and communication corridor," he said.

The Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India (TAPI) project, supported by the United States and the Asian Development Bank, has been touted by energy-rich Turkmenistan for years as a way to get its gas onto world markets.

Turkmenistan, which currently sells gas only to China, started construction on its section of the pipeline in 2015.

But work was delayed on the section in southern Afghanistan, where the pipeline is due to run for hundreds of kilometers through areas controlled by Taliban insurgents fighting the Western-backed government in Kabul.

In a surprise move on February 23, the Taliban issued statements pledging its cooperation, saying the pipeline would be an important element in building up Afghanistan's economic infrastructure.

"There will be no delay in this important national project," it said.

Backers of the planned 1,800-kilometer pipeline say it will ease energy deficits in South Asia and help reduce tensions in the divided region.

Afghan officials say Kabul will earn some $500 million annually in transit duties and that the project will help create thousands of jobs.



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Turkmen section of trans-Afghanistan gas pipeline completed
By Euronews

The pipeline — developed by the TAPI Pipeline Company — will carry 33 billion cubic metres of natural gas a year and create about 12,000 jobs.

The leaders of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan celebrated with the foreign minister of India the completion of the Turkmen section of the trans-Afghanistan pipeline which will transport natural gas from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

“From 2015, we have done a lot of work in order to reach the current phase of the project,” explained Muhammetmyrat Amanov, CEO of the TAPI Pipeline Company.

“We have concluded our work in Turkmenistan and we now move to Afghanistan. We plan to finish the job and put gas in the pipeline towards the end of 2019.”

Related reading: TAPI: a pipeline for peace and stability

Terrorist attacks in Afghanistan are of great concern to everyone involved in the project. The Taliban have declared that they wish to destroy the pipeline.

Afghan authorities say all necessary measures have been taken.

“Afghanistan is of course a country which has high risk of security, but in the mean time, we have full preparation from the governments’ side for protecting TAPI,” said the acting minister of mines and petroleum of Afghanistan, Nargis Nehan.

“We are aware of the risk, but you also understand that TAPI is such an important project, that not only the government of Afghanistan, but also the people will do whatever they can to protect the pipeline.”

The pipeline will run more than 1,800 km to the Fazilka Village on the Indo-Pakistani border.

It will provide Afghanistan with 14 million standard cubic metres per day of natural gas, while India and Pakistan will each receive close to 40 million standard cubic metres.

Turkmenistan always had large gas fields, but its transfer to other countries proved difficult. TAPI strengthens the economy of central Asia, opens up new fields of cooperation, while it boosts the energy sufficiency of the four countries involved in the project.

“Afghanistan needs economic stability in order to create political stability,” said the Emirati economy minister, Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansoori.

“People there, need to create revenue and income, industries, businesses. This pipeline is going to satisfy these needs of Afghanistan. Eventually this is also moving to Pakistan, moving into India. The connection of the four countries, you will also see an exchange of knowledge, know how, investments between all these nations.”

The importance of the TAPI pipeline was underlined by the presence of many government representatives from the wider region.

They all highlight the fundamental role of the pipeline for the future prosperity of the four nations.