We are turning TAPI into reality: PM Abbasi

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi

Turkmenistan has completed construction of gas pipeline in its section under TAPI project, following which a groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled to be performed at the Turkmen border city of Serhetabat tomorrow to take the pipeline to Afghanistan.

Work for the project, created to transfer 33 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Galkynysh natural gas reserve of Turkmenistan annually along an 1,800 km route to Pakistan and India via Afghanistan, was formally inaugurated at a ceremony Friday.

Turkmenistan sits on the world's fourth-largest gas reserves but lost a major buyer in Russia after Russian energy giant Gazprom wound down imports of Turkmen gas and then ceased purchases completely in 2016.

This was the first leg of the ground-breaking ceremony, which was also attended by Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani and India's Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar, according to information received here.

"TAPI will lead from a gas pipeline into an energy and communication corridor", Mr Abbasi said, adding that as well as providing energy, the pipeline would underpin development of road, rail and communications networks. He said the Afghanistan government's policy is a policy of "connectivity" and South Asia is being connected with Central Asia through Afghanistan, TOLO News reported.

The multi-million dollar gas pipeline will link energy-rich Turkmenistan to the three countries. The successful accomplishment of the project would help accelerate pace of socio-economic activities in the participating countries besides creating direct and indirect employment opportunities.

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The pipeline will traverse war-wracked Afghanistan, raising security concerns.

Gazprom, the Russian natural gas monopoly, has found no backing for its proposed trans-Korean gas pipeline crossing the Demilitarized Zone, which it says would ease tensions.

In a telephone interview, Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AP that they were ready to guarantee the pipeline's security.

"Today, given the energy requirements in India, there are several gas pipeline proposals before us".

Ghani described the project as a "corridor of development" and stressed on regional cooperation.

The Prime Minister also congratulated the ADB for its role in making the project a reality.