Wednesday, May 23, 2012 -
Turkmenistan signed agreements Wednesday to supply India and Pakistan with natural gas through the proposed trans-regional TAPI pipeline.
The deals, signed at the Turkmen Caspian Sea tourist resort of Avaza, are seen as major steps toward realizing of the four-country Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas transmission project.
"This is a truly historic moment of unparalleled regional cooperation," said Klaus Gerhaeusser, director general of the Central and West Asia Department at the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which is backing the $7.6 billion plan, the Reuters news agency reported.
Turkmen state-controlled gas major Turkmengas inked the sales and purchase agreements with India’s state gas company GAIL and Pakistan’s Inter State Gas Systems.
"The implementation of this project will give a powerful impetus to the social and economic development of all the participant countries," Turkmen Deputy Prime Minister Baimurad Hojamukhamedov said at the signing ceremony.
The pipeline is designed to pump 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year from Turkmenistan’s Galkynysh field, formerly known as Yolotan, one of the world’s largest.
The major concern is security of the route through Afghan territory. The Kabul government has offered assurances that it will provide adequate security for its stretch of the pipeline through the conflict-torn Afghan provinces of Kandahar and Herat.
Pakistan and India are desperate to source new supplies of gas for their energy-hungry consumers, while Turkmenistan is eager to establish new exports outlets for its vast reserves. The United States is also backing TAPI in an attempt to keep the South Asian countries from buying gas from Iran.