Baku, Azerbaijan, Aug. 11
By Elena Kosolapova - Trend:
The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project has recently become much more popular. The project is often mentioned in the press. The sides involved in the project meet regularly at various levels to discuss its details. The project implementation is under completion. This was discussed at the highest level. The foreign companies are invited to participate.
Moreover, some real actions have been taken for the TAPI implementation. So, a feasibility study for the project is being worked out. An international consortium was established to implement it. It has been recently determined that the State Concern of Turkmenistan - Turkmengas will be the leader of the consortium.
All project participants have a great interest in TAPI. This is an opportunity for Turkmenistan to diversify its gas supplies and enter the huge market of countries in South-East Asia.
The gas pipeline will ensure an additional source of gas, required to meet the growing needs of Afghanistan, Pakistan and especially India.
It would seem that in such conditions, the project has all chances to be implemented in the shortest possible period. Moreover, technically, it is simple to build a pipe from the gas fields of Turkmenistan to the borders of India. The Asian Development Bank, a transactional advisor for TAPI, told Trend earlier that the actual construction of the gas pipeline would take about three years.
However, negotiations on the project have continued for over 10 years. All this time, the parties have expressed their support and interest in the project, signed various documents relating to its implementation, made loud statements about the start of construction. In 2008, the feasibility study was even prepared. But so far there has been no progress.
The problem is that security in the transit countries, which the pipeline should cross, i.e. Afghanistan and Pakistan, is at a very low level. Blowing up infrastructure in these countries is commonplace. For the years since the emergence of the idea of the TAPI gas pipeline, the situation has not improved. On the contrary, with the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan in 2014, the terrorist threat in the region only increased. Under these conditions, in case of the project implementation, its participants will have to take huge risks, without any guarantee.
The question arises: is it worth it for Turkmenistan to take such a risk? The desire of the country to diversify its gas supplies is clear. But Southeast Asia is not the only region dreaming of Turkmen gas. In particular, the EU shows great interest for gas from Turkmenistan. The capacity of the European market is significant. The supply route in this direction will be much safer. Perhaps Turkmenistan should abandon hope for the TAPI gas pipeline and pay more attention to the European direction.
Edited by CN
Elena Kosolapova is Trend Agency's staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @E_Kosolapova