Turkmenistan fires the starting pistol on TAPI pipeline
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdynukhamedov has ordered to begin work on the construction of the much-awaited Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline.
Holding the world’s fourth largest natural gas reserves, Turkmenistan is keen to diversify its natural gas exports and the TAPI project has been touted by Turkmenistan since the 1990s.
According to sources, the construction of the pipeline will take 3-4 years and is designed to last for 30 years.
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.
Afghan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum said the project would provide job opportunities to more than 5000 Afghans, and it would bring in an annual revenue of USD 300mn to the Afghan government.
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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