Baku, Azerbaijan, Oct.29
By Elena Kosolapova - Trend:
Geopolitical risks make the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) construction project practically impossible, the invited expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations, former director of the Center for Strategic Studies under the President of Azerbaijan, Doctor of Political Sciences Elkhan Nuriyev told Trend.
He said that the current situation, which is related to the construction of the TAPI, is more reminiscent of renewal of the "Great Game" around the region of Central Asia, which also involves Pakistan, Iran, Russia and Central Asian countries, which have a common border with Afghanistan, in addition to the US and its NATO allies.
"Currently, the prospect of increased competition is preserved, and it occurs on the background of high geopolitical risks that make the TAPI project practically impossible," he said.
The expert also reminded that a significant part of the gas pipeline will pass through unstable regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, cross the border between India and Pakistan. This will create serious problems that will make it impossible to rely on the successful implementation of the project, said Nuriyev.
In addition, the complex relations between India and Pakistan threaten the stability of gas supplies from Turkmenistan, he said.
The TAPI project is a costly one, and operation of the pipeline, in case of its construction, will be associated with high security costs, according to the expert.
"Even if the construction of the TAPI gas pipeline begins in 2015, his future fate will remain uncertain, since much depends on the development of the domestic political processes in Afghanistan in the coming years," said Nuriyev. "Thus, the lack of security is a major obstacle to real progress in the implementation of this project."
At the same time, the construction of the TAPI will enhance the integration of Afghanistan into the international economic system, according to the expert. However, it is necessary that the project would contribute to strengthening the geo-economic cooperation, rather than strengthening geopolitical rivalry in order to achieve this goal, he said.
The expert also reminded that Turkmenistan, which gradually turns into a powerful and active player on the Eurasian energy market and attempts to increasingly diversify its gas export routes, has other promising areas for its exports as well.
In particular, in recent years Turkmenistan has increased gas supplies in the east direction, as well as to China, Iran and Russia, according to the expert. In addition, the country will be able to export its gas to Europe, if a consensus on the Trans-Caspian pipeline is reached.
"Creating a kind of new format of multilateral dialogue between the EU and the five Caspian littoral states (Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan) will probably make it possible to find common ground and to remove differences on important strategic issues in relation to laying pipeline across the bottom of the Caspian Sea," said Nuriyev.
Earlier, the Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said that it is planned to start the construction of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) international gas pipeline in 2015.
The design capacity of the TAPI is up to 33 billion cubic meters of gas per year.
The TAPI pipe length will reach 1,735 kilometers. Some 200 kilometers of the pipeline will run through Turkmenistan, 735 kilometers - through Afghanistan, 800 kilometers - through Pakistan to the settlement of Fazilka, located on the border with India.
Turkmenistan's largest field Galkynysh can serve as a raw material source.
The negotiations among the EU, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan on the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline began in September 2011.
In July 2013, following high-level talks in Ashgabat, a framework agreement was signed between Turkmenistan and Turkey. The agreement envisaged cooperation in the delivery of Turkmen gas to Turkey and further to Europe.
The project for laying a 300-kilometer gas pipeline along the bottom of the Caspian Sea up to the shores of Azerbaijan is considered to be optimal for the delivery of Turkmen energy resources to the European market. The Turkmen hydrocarbons can subsequently go to Turkey, which shares a border with the European countries.
Turkmenistan believes that its and Azerbaijan's consent is enough to construct a pipeline along the bottom of the Caspian Sea, the legal status of which still needs to be determined.
The project covers the territories of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. Azerbaijan said it stands ready to provide its territory, transit opportunities and infrastructure to realize the project.