Turkmenistan on Wednesday signed agreements with India and Pakistan to deliver gas through a new pipeline that will transit Afghanistan, the first contracts in the ambitious project.
The 1,700-kilometre (1,050-mile) TAPI pipeline aims to transport more than 30 billion cubic metres of gas annually from Turkmenistan to energy-hungry consumers in Pakistan and India as well as relieving shortages in Afghanistan.
The sale-purchase agreements were signed at a ceremony on the sidelines of the annual Turkmenistan oil and gas congress in its Caspian Sea resort of Avaza by the head of the state gas company Sakhatmurad Mamedov with Indian and Pakistani counterparts.
Financial details of the contracts were not disclosed.
"Today we are witnesses of a historic event, not just of regional but of world scale," said Turkmenistan Deputy Prime Minister Baimurat Khodzhamukhamedov.
Turkmenistan and Afghanistan signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation the gas sector but no contract. Khodzhamukhamedov said negotiations were continuing with Afghanistan on the price of deliveries.
The TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) natural gas pipeline, which is backed by the Asian Development Bank, has yet to be built and is regarded with suspicion by some analysts.
Much of the pipeline will go through Afghanistan which neighbours both Turkmenistan and Pakistan but remains wracked by violence and instability.