Meeting on Turkmenistan pipeline put off

A steering committee meeting of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday in Islamabad, has been postponed indefinitely on Ashkhabad's request, it is learnt.

Meeting on Turkmenistan pipeline put off
A steering committee meeting of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday in Islamabad, has been postponed indefinitely on Ashkhabad's request, it is learnt.

Pakistan and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) had organised the meeting and Afghanistan, India and Turkmenistan had agreed to participate. However, the Turkmen government later sought postponement, citing the domestic political situation, informed sources told the Pakistani daily Dawn.

The meeting was considered crucial for the fact that it was to formally consider amendments made by the ADB in the multilateral framework agreement for the inclusion of India in the project and discuss the security situation in Afghanistan which was one of the most important factors in realisation of the 4-billion dollar transnational pipeline project.

On the agenda of the meeting was the finalisation of gas volumes by the respective parties. Ashkhabad was to specify how much gas quantities, based on independent certification, it would dedicate for the project and the recipient nations were to put forth their gas requirements through the pipeline that is to stretch more than 1,600 kilometres from Turkmenistan's south-eastern Daulatabad field to the Indian city of Bikaner, via Afghanistan and Pakistan.

These estimates are required to be reflected in the draft gas sales and purchase agreements (GSPA) prepared by Pakistan.

The finalisation of the framework agreement by the four participating countries is the key stage where they can think of implementing the project and trigger a host of activities and agreements between and among the four nations and the ADB.

The framework is to deal with contractual obligations of the parties in the construction of the pipeline, the security, gas tariffs and uninterrupted gas flows over the 30-year life of the project.

The ADB had furnished the final draft of the inter-governmental framework agreement to the four nations in April this year along with some modifications that were required to allow for the inclusion of India in the pipeline project.

The original inter-governmental agreement was prepared without making India a part of the project and hence an amended draft was required following an "in principle" decision of the Indian cabinet to join the project.

A source in Pakistan's petroleum ministry, however, said before the finalisation of the four-nation agreement, the stakeholders have to hammer out seven issues that have been hampering progress on a gas pipeline from Central Asia to Pakistan for almost two years now.

The capital cost of the 1,435 kilometre pipeline of 56-inch diameter (from Turkmenistan to the Pakistani city of Multan) had recently been updated to about 4 billion from 3.3 billion dollars in 2004.

Pakistan believes that bottlenecks hampering progress on the project involved the non-confirmation of uncommitted gas volume by Turkmenistan regarding the Daulatabad gas field, the uncertainties or lack of clarity with regard to the price of the gas to be demanded by Turkmenistan and the security situation in Afghanistan.

Also there are significant difficulties in the expected implementation of security and risk mitigation measures proposed by the ADB's consultant and the usual delays of the Turkmen government in complying with the decisions taken by the steering committee.

AKI
Last Mod: 22 Ağustos 2007, 18:45
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