ISLAMABAD - Moscow has shown lackluster response to efforts to join the multibillion dollars Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline project also known as Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline mainly because of geo-economic compulsions of the Russian Federation, diplomatic sources said.
Well-placed European Union countries diplomats privy to these developments told The Nation that Russia controls all export pipelines through Central Asia just cannot conceive such a project that lead to gas export to the regions other than the Europe, its main market.
That was why Moscow has never shown enthusiasm in the TAPI gas pipeline project, they said, adding, that basically it was a US proposal to check the Russian intentions.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has designed the TAPI project and a Sales Purchase Agreement (SPA) to be signed by the relevant countries.
The Afghan government, which had declined to purchase gas from the TAPI pipeline, is expected to receive 8 per cent of the project’s revenue as transit fee. The roots of this project lie in the involvement of international oil companies in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan beginning of 1990s.
The leaders of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan signed the new deal on the pipeline on 27 December 2002. In 2005, the Asian Development Bank submitted the final version of a feasibility study designed by British company Penspen.
Since the US-led offensive that ousted the Taliban from power, reported Forbes in 2005, “the project has been revived and drawn strong US support” as it would allow the Central Asian Republics to export energy to Western markets “without relying on Russian routes”.
On 24 April 2008, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan signed a framework agreement to buy natural gas from Turkmenistan. The intergovernmental agreement on the pipeline was signed on 11 December 2010 in Ashgabat.
However, in April 2012, India and Afghanistan have failed to agree on transit fee for gas passing through Afghan territory.
Consequently, Islamabad and New Delhi too could not agree on the transit fee for the segment of the pipeline passing through Pakistan, which has linked its fee structure to any India-Afghanistan agreement.
The original project started on 15 March 1995 when an inaugural memorandum of understanding between the governments of Turkmenistan and Pakistan for a pipeline project was signed. Argentinian company Bridas Corporation promoted this project.
The US Company Unocal, in conjunction with the Saudi Arabian oil company Delta, promoted alternative project without Bridas involvement.
On 21 October 1995, these two companies signed a separate agreement with Turkmenistan‘s President Saparmurat Niyazov.
In August 1996, the Central Asia Gas Pipeline, Ltd (Centgas) consortium for construction of a pipeline, led by Unocal, was formed.
On 27 October 1997, several international oil companies alongwith the Government of Turkmenistan incorporated CentGas in formal signing ceremonies in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
The 1,735 kilometres (1,078 miles) pipeline will run from the Turkmenistan gas fields to Afghanistan. The pipeline will start from the Dauletabad gas field. In Afghanistan, the TAPI will be constructed alongside the highway running from Herat to Kandahar, and then via Quetta and Multan in Pakistan. The final destination of the pipeline will be the Indian town of Fazilka, near the border between Pakistan and India.
For security reasons, the Asian Development Bank had proposed alternative routes in Afghanistan. One alternative was through Taskepri in Turkmenistan to Shebarghan and then through Balakh, Mazar-i- Sharif, Samangan, Kabul and Jalalabad in Afghanistan, and Peshawar, Nowshera, Islamabad and Lahore in Pakistan to India.
Another alternative was a route through Serhetabat, Shindand, Delaram, Kandahar, Quetta, Lora Lai, Dera Ghazi Khan and Multan.
The pipeline will be 1,420 millimetres (56 inches) in diameter with a working pressure of 100 standard atmospheres (10,000 kPa).