Shell and western banks examine TAPI gas pipeline project

Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, Oct. 3 / Trend H. Hasanov /

Oil and gas concern Shell, represented in more than 90 countries and a number of reputable western banks is examining the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline construction project, the Indian media sources said on Wednesday.

The Hindu / Business Line referred to sources close to the negotiations and Shell is amongst the companies that have expressed an interest in the project.

According to reports, the project which has US backing had initially seen
interest from Chinese and Russian firms. Road-shows were also held to invite financiers to the project.

According to The Hindu/Business Line, the participants included amongst others, SBI, US EXIM, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and Macquarie Bank.

The decision with regard to the consortium leader and investors which will
be made jointly by member countries in consultation with the Asian
Development Bank (ADB), is expected to be completed in a year's time.

"The work on the network is expected to start in 2015," The Hindu/Business Line said. "The pipeline is expected to be operational in 2018 and supply gas over a 30-year period."

The Turkmen side conducted several international road shows for TAPI in September with the participation of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). It was reported that Chevron, Exxon Mobil, BP, BG Group, RWE, Petronas and
other companies became familiarised with the main terms of the project
implementation and expressed an intention to participate in it.

TAPI aims at ensuring the long term supplies of over 30 billion cubic meters of Turkmen natural gas to South-East Asia annually. The start of the project was signed in Ashgabat in late 2010.

In May 2012 Turkmenistan signed a memorandum of understanding with Transit Afghanistan on TAPI. Contracts on the sale of Turkmen gas were also signed with the State Gas Systems of Pakistan and Indian GAIL Ltd.

ADB has been acting as the secretariat in the TAPI project. It previously reported that after more than 20 years of complex negotiations, an 1800-kilometre gas pipeline which will connect one of the largest energy suppliers of Central Asia - Turkmenistan with a market in South Asia was one step closer to reality. This testifies an unprecedented new sphere in regional relations.

Turkmenistan currently supplies gas to China, Iran and Russia. Besides the South Asian destination, Ashgabat hopes to join the European market.

German RWE and a shareholder of another gas pipeline project - Nabucco have a contract with the Turkmen government. They are among the companies interested in TAPI. EU hopes for Nabucco to diversify its energy sources.

Turkmenistan may join this project in the case of construction of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline to the Azerbaijani coast related to the relevant communications with Transit Turkey. Malaysia's Petronas is also represented in the Turkmen market.

The company is working in the Caspian Sea offshore block and is ready to produce to 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year, which can also be a source for fuel supply to Europe.

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