ISLAMABAD - The meeting of the Steering Committee of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) is likely to be held next week to finalise the matters related the pricing, cost of the project and share holders’ agreement, it is learnt reliably here on Thursday.

A delegation from Turkmenistan headed by Yagshygeldi Kakayev, Director of State Agency for Management and Hydrocarbon Resources of Turkmenistan, called on Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and discussed the issues pertaining to the development of the TAPI.

“The Turkmen delegation has asked about our availability for the meeting of the steering committee on TAPI and we said any time before the Prime Minister visit to US is suitable for us,” official privy to the meeting told The Nation here. Representatives of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India will participate in the meeting. The Turkmenistan government has invited Pakistan to join the consortium as a contractor for the TAPI project but Pakistan asked time to ponder over the invitation, the official said. “It is too early to decide as we don’t know about the actual cost of the project and other required information, therefore we have asked the Turkmen delegation that we will decide after the final outcome of the steering committee meeting,” the official added.

The venue of the steering committee meeting has yet to be announced, which will most probably finalise the techno-commercial viability, shareholders agreement, investment agreement, gas prices and the total cost of the TAPI project, the official maintained.

He said that the Turkmen delegation has now left for India for discussing TAPI pipeline project and the steering committee meeting with the Indian authorities. All the stakeholders are ready to start the construction of multi-billion dollars gas line by December this year and they are waiting for the final outcome of the steering committee, the official said.

The minister for petroleum told the Turkmen delegation that Pakistan is more than willing to start the Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) pipeline but waiting for the outcome of the steering committee meeting, the official maintained.

At the 22nd Steering Committee meeting of TAPI project held in Ashgabat in August this year it was agreed by the four nations to co-own the project and a joint venture company with participation from each country would be set up to build and operate the over 1,600 km line. The TAPI Steering Committee also endorsed Turkmen State Company “Turkmengas” as the consortium leader of TAPI Pipeline Company Limited to spearhead efforts to build, finance, own and operates the gas pipeline. The estimated cost of the project is about $10 billion and it will have a capacity to carry 90 million standard cubic metres a day (mmscmd) gas for a 30-year period.

Meanwhile a press statement issued here by the ministry said that the Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources appraised the delegation of the energy sector of Pakistan and related initiatives. He informed the delegation that the present Government of Pakistan is committed to resolve the energy crisis being faced by Pakistan in the shortest possible time. “In this regard both long term and short term measures are being undertaken.” said the Minister.

The Turkmen delegation expressed satisfaction over the state of the bilateral energy cooperation that exists between Turkmenistan and Pakistan. The Turkmen side exchanged views and updates regarding the TAPI gas pipeline project and extended an invitation to the Pakistani side to participate in the upcoming Steering Committee meeting being held in Ashgabat, both sides also held detailed discussions on the shareholder’s agreement and the participation of Pakistani oil and gas companies to undertake joint ventures and share their expertise in major oil and gas projects.

The Minister while welcoming the Yagshygeldi Kakayev, stated that present government attached utmost importance to its cordial ties with Turkmenistan and is determined to take these relations to even higher level by expanding mutual cooperation in all fields. He assured the delegation of his government’s cooperation to achieve their common goals. The Minister stated that Pakistan has always appreciated and welcomed the cooperation extended by Turkmenistan Government in various sectors of the economy.