Herat to host first international conference on TAPI
Western Herat province of Afghanistan is going to host the first international conference on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline next month.
The announcement was made at a meeting attended by deputy foreign minister of Turkmenistan, Herat Governor Mohammad Asif Rahimi, officials from the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum and tribal leaders from Herat and Farah provinces.
Governor Rahimi said the gas project was vital for Afghanistan’s economic development and stressed the early execution of the project.
TAPI is an important lynchpin in the realization of the New Silk Road in the arena of energy where Afghanistan again plays a central role in connecting energy-rich Central Asia to energy-deficient South Asia. The idea of the USD 7.6bn (initial estimate of the cost) pipeline first originated in 1995 when the Turkmenistan and Pakistan leaders signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
The project aims to export up to 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas per year through a proposed 1,800-kilomter pipeline from the Dauletabad gas field in Turkmenistan along the highway through Herat, Helmand and Kandahar in Afghanistan, to Quetta and Multan in Pakistan, and on to Fazilka in India. The pipeline could become a recipe for long-term stability in Afghanistan by generating revenue for the Afghan government and creating jobs for Afghans in general.
Envisaged to be completed by 2018, the pipeline is expected to produce USD 400mn a year in revenues for Afghanistan.It will further provide an alternative energy source for Afghanistan, which is currently depending on Iran for fuel. In addition to the economic benefits that the project will bring in its wake to the participating countries, it has serious geopolitical implications as well that will further bolster Afghanistan’s ties with its neighbors, particularly Pakistan. Pakistan and Afghanistan’s tensions over trade and terrorism are profound. The TAPI project will promote positive political and economic interaction between the two neighboring nations by providing an avenue for mutually-beneficial economic cooperation.
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