No trade, no peace or who will undertake implementation of TAPI project?

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, Nov. 21

By Huseyn Hasanov- Trend:

The countries involved in the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, will choose a project development leader after an international tender is announced in early 2015, the Turkmen government said Nov. 21.

The 19th meeting of the TAPI steering committee took place in Ashgabat. It consisted of the ministers of the countries participating in the project, representatives of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which is a TAPI transactional advisor, a statement says.

"A decision was made to hold additional consultations on assessing and choosing the potential partners and a leader of the consortium before February 2015 given the completion of the preparatory work for the implementation of the TAPI project and all recommendations and statements," a statement says. "After these procedures, the steering committee will announce an international tender to choose a leader of the "TAPI Ltd" consortium."

The participants of the meeting confirmed the readiness of their countries for the beginning of construction work, the great interest of the sides in the rapid implementation of the TAPI gas pipeline project and Turkmen natural gas supply to South Asia's markets, a statement says.

The sides held the meetings of the "TAPI Ltd" Board of Directors and a technical working group in Ashgabat.

They coordinated the issues related to the update of the project feasibility study and "TAPI Ltd" registration.

"The matter rested in attracting the leading foreign companies having the necessary technical capabilities, advanced technologies and practical experience in the construction of pipelines," a statement says.

"The implementation of the TAPI project is part of Turkmenistan's energy strategy," Turkmen Dovlet Khabarlary state news service reported. "It envisages the diversification of export routes and aims at ensuring safe energy supplies to the world markets.

Turkmengaz State Concern, Afghan Gas Corporation, Pakistan's "Inter State Gas Systems (Private) Limited" and Indian "GAIL (India) Limited" with equal shares have recently established "TAPI Ltd." operating company. It will own the pipeline in the future.

The project implementation can begin in 2015, the sides said. The Ashgabat interstate agreement of the member-states is a basic document signed in 2010. The TAPI capacity will be up to 33 billion cubic meters of gas per year.

However, good intentions came to naught after civil strife intensified and the US military operation against the Taliban movement began in Afghanistan, on the territory of which it is planned to lay the significant part of the pipeline.

It was decided to reanimate this complex project in the TAPI format (with participation of India) in 2010 by signing the Ashgabat interstate agreement between the participating countries on starting its practical implementation.

Meanwhile, experts state that the instability in Afghanistan remains as a major obstacle to the implementation of this project.

However, Afghanistan said it will be able to ensure the security of the route with the length of 735 kilometers after the withdrawal of ISAF forces as well.

As the saying goes in the East, if there is no trade, then there is no peace. The opinion formed in Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India says that peace can be brought to Afghanistan by restoring the country's economy, infrastructure and by creating jobs. In these terms, the gas pipeline can be a 'stabilizing factor'. Some international organizations such as the UN, OSCE and EU also share this opinion.

The issue related to ensuring the energy security and the situation in Afghanistan were also discussed today between Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and Swiss President, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Didier Burkhalter who is on a working visit to Ashgabat.

Turkmen authorities believe that it is time to move to the era of 'global energy security' in the energy supply issues under the auspices of the UN, which should ultimately adopt a special convention on the safety of international pipelines.

Russia, the US, Turkey and several other influential powers in the region support the implementation of the TAPI project.

Earlier, Turkmen media reported that companies such as Chevron, Exxon Mobil, BP, BG Group, RWE, Petronas have read the project's terms and "expressed their intention to participate in it". Pakistani journalists later added Total and an undisclosed Chinese company to this list.

Turkmenistan and independent auditors claim that the country possesses planetary-scale natural gas reserve. This gives confidence to Turkmenistan to simultaneously implement several gas pipeline projects in various directions, including to Europe through the Caspian Sea and Azerbaijan.

Huseyn Hasanov is Trend's staff writer

Edited by CN

For any questions or feedback, follow the author on Twitter: @AygunBadalova

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