The mega gas pipeline project of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) connecting the energy-rich Central Asian nation with the South Asian countries was inaugurated on Friday, with leaders of the four countries attending its groundbreaking ceremony in Serhetabat followed by another in Herat.
In an exceptional show of regional cooperation, the quartet aims to complete the 1,840-kilometre pipeline at a cost of $8 billion within two years to begin pumping 33 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas annually from Turkmenistan’s giant Galkynysh gas field amid security concerns in the war-weary Afghanistan though the Afghan Taliban have vowed to protect the pipeline.
While the project has allowed Turkmenistan to find new consumers in Asia by reducing its dependence on Beijing, which buys about 35bcm gas annually, it is also being advocated by the United States over an alternative pipeline to bring gas from Iran through Pakistan and into India.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi along with President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, his Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani and Minister of State for External Affairs of India M.J. Akbar attended the groundbreaking ceremony at the Turkmenistan border with Afghanistan.
“TAPI will lead from a gas pipeline into an energy and communication corridor,” PM Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said, adding that as well as providing energy, the pipeline would underpin development of road, rail and communications networks.