Modi-Sharif meet likely at TAPI pipeline ceremony in Turkmenistan


New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan on December 13 on the sidelines of a ceremony on much-anticipated $10-billion TAPI gas pipeline.

The proposed pipeline will supply gas from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, The Express Tribune reported.

Construction of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline will begin from December 13 in Turkmenistan, said an official of Interstate Gas Systems Private Ltd. on Tuesday.

TAPI project will commence next week, some 25 years after the inception of the project, Dawn online quoted Mobin Saulat, managing director of IGSP, as saying.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif along with Afghanistan and Indian leaders will attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the $10 billion project in Asghabat.

Saulat said the dialogue to import gas for energy-starved Pakistan was initiated with Turkmenistan in 1990, and added that work on the pipeline will finally commence next week.

Pakistan’s Interstate Gas Systems, along with Turkmenistan’s Turkmengas, Afghanistan’s Afghan Gas Enterprise and India’s Gail Ltd., has equal shareholding in the TAPI Pipeline Company Limited (TPCL).

Gas supply to Pakistan via TAPI project will begin in 2019, Saulat said.

According to Saulat, Pakistan and India will get over 1.3 billion cubic feet per day of gas from TAPI while Afghanistan will get 0.5 billion cubic feet.

India will pay $200-250 million in transit fees to Pakistan while Pakistan will pay the same amount as transit fees to Afghanistan, he said.

Pakistan and India have both purchased five percent shares of the TAPI project, Saulat said.

The pipeline has a stretch of 1,800 km and is likely to cost more than $10 billion.

Turkmenistan media said the government expects the gas link, with an annual capacity of 33 billion cubic metres, to be fully operational by the end of 2018.

The TAPI project could help ease growing energy deficits of Asian giants Pakistan and India.

The project is politically complex, requiring cooperating governments, and logistically challenging, as the pipeline would pass through areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan plagued by Taliban and separatist insurgents.

(With inputs from agencies)