Baku, Azerbaijan, May 3
By Elena Kosolapova - Trend:
There is a genuine desire from all four countries involved in the TAPI (Turkmenistan- Afghanistan - Pakistan - India) pipeline project for the pipeline to be built, but the facts on the ground make its realization unlikely, Michael Kugelman, Senior Program Associate for South and Southeast Asia in the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington believes.
"I can't imagine, for example, how you can expect to build a major infrastructure project through Afghanistan given the current security situation," he told Trend by email.
"Many parts of Afghanistan have become completely inaccessible, so how can you expect to deploy capital, labor, and machinery for an extended period of time?," Kugelman said.
Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline will make it possible to deliver gas from Turkmenistan, which ranks fourth in the world on biggest gas reserves, to large and promising markets of South and Southeast Asia. The pipeline is to run from Galkynysh - the largest gas field in Turkmenistan - through the Afghan cities of Herat and Kandahar, and finally reach the Fazilka settlement located near the India-Pakistan border.
The estimated cost of the project will exceed $10 billion. The annual capacity of the gas pipeline will reach 33 billion cubic meters. It is planned that the total length of the TAPI pipeline will be 1,814 kilometers. Some 214 kilometers will pass through the territory of Turkmenistan, 774 kilometers - Afghanistan, 826 kilometers - Pakistan.
Turkmenistan started construction of its section of TAPI pipeline in Dec. 2015 and it is expected it will take three years. It is not yet determined when Afghanistan and Pakistan will start construction their sections of the pipeline.
Kugelman noted that for reasons of energy security, Afghanistan and Pakistan have an urgent need and a strong interest in building their portions as soon as possible.
"However, Afghanistan's security situation makes construction unlikely. Pakistan's security situation has improved in recent months, but it will also face access and security issues," the expert noted.
Moreover Kugelman reminded, that Pakistan signed a huge infrastructure deal worth $46 billion with China in April 2015, which among other things, is expected to finance the construction of the İran-Pakistan gas pipeline.
"So Pakistan doesn't have as strong an incentive to build its portion of TAPI as it did before the Chinese investment deal was signed last year," he said.
Meanwhile, Turkmenistan announced that the construction of its section of the TAPI pipeline is advancing at high rate. At the recent meetings with the representatives of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, president of Turkmenistan invited these countries to take part in the implementation of the TAPI project.
Kugelman believes that both Saudi Arabia and Qatar will unlikely to participate in the TAPI project because they are suffering from the consequences of reduced global oil prices, and will want to be very cautious and strategic about where they direct their investment.
"My sense is that these countries would be interested in deploying their capital to less risky ventures. They can't afford to lose more money. And I really don't think TAPI amounts to a winning bet right now," the expert said.
Edited by SI
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