TAPI could be a Game Changer

Enterprise - - Contents - The TAPI pipe­line project paints a rosy pic­ture but there are daunt­ing chal­lenges that have to be over­come.

South Asia is per­haps the least in­te­grated re­gion in the world. Ini­tia­tives like SAARC and SAFTA, though re­flect­ing noble in­ten­tions of re­gional lead­ers, have failed to in­te­grate the re­gion eco­nom­i­cally. In­tra-SAARC trade is not more than two per­cent. Poverty, low hu­man de­vel­op­ment, con­flict and mis­trust are the char­ac­ter­is­tics which de­fine most South Asian na­tions. There ex­ists a huge gap be­tween the as­pi­ra­tions and ac­tions of the lead­ers and the peo­ple of this re­gion. On pa­per, one can find grand projects and ini­tia­tives un­der the um­brella of SAARC but per­haps it would be hard to name a sin­gle project col­lec­tively un­der­taken by South Asian coun­tries.

In this con­text, the Turk­menistan-Afghanistan-Pak­istanIn­dia (TAPI) nat­u­ral gas pipe­line can turn out to be a game changer for the re­gion. The op­er­a­tional agree­ment signed by the four coun­tries in July 2014 is a land­mark de­vel­op­ment for lay­ing down the trans-bor­der, 1735 kilo­me­ter long pipe­line that orig­i­nates from Galka­nysh (for­merly South Yolotan-Os­man) in Turk­menistan and passes through Farah, Herat, Kan­da­har and Hel­mand prov­inces of Afghanistan be­fore en­ter­ing Pak­istan. The pipe­line is sup­posed to end in Fazilka in In­dian Pun­jab after zigzag­ging through Pak­istan. The pro­jected cost of the pipe­line is $7.6 bil­lion and it is es­ti­mated to trans­port 60 to 90 mil­lion cu­bic me­ters gas per day.

All stake­hold­ers will gain from the project. Turk­menistan’s Galka­nysh field holds gas re­serves of 16 tril­lion cu­bic feet. Turk­menistan has abun­dant re­sources of gas but it is land­locked be­tween two en­ergy gi­ants – Rus­sia and Iran. The gas pipe­line will pro­vide Turk­menistan a win­dow of op­por­tu­nity to tap two of the largest South Asian en­ergy mar­kets, re­duce its de­pen­dence on Rus­sia, di­ver­sify its gas mar­ket and deepen its re­la­tions with the South Asian re­gion. For Afghanistan, this may be the largest de­vel­op­ment project. The TAPI pipe­line could pro­duce up to $400 mil­lion

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