TAPI gas pipeline talks begin

New Delhi: The four nations involved in the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project began discussing gas sales and other details of the $7.6 billion project in New Delhi but are unlikely to conclude any agreement at the end of four day talk this week.

India is hosting the official-level dialogue which among other things is to deliberate on a Gas Sale and Purchase Agreement (GSPA) and project structure, officials said.

“The four-day talks began on Monday and will continue till April 28,” an official said. “An official communiqué is likely to be issued at the end of the talks on Thursday.”

The Technical Working Group (TWG) on TAPI project will hold meetings on the first three days while the steering committee of project will meet on April 28, to be attended by Oil Ministers of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

However, GSPA is unlikely to be finalised in these talks and the four nations may agree for another date for holding further discussions on the issue.

“GSPA was originally to be concluded by April end but it looks unlikely. The deadline is likely to be extended till July 31,” another official said.

The talks will focus on proposed appointment of “Transaction Advisor” for assisting in forming a consortium which will lay and operate the pipeline. It will also raise funds for TAPI gas pipeline project after signing of GSPA.

The four countries, which had in December signed Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) and Gas Pipeline Framework Agreement (GPFA), have decided to jointly form a consortium for the pipeline and the consortium will be headed by an international company having similar experience.

The TAPI project envisages to build a 1,735-km pipeline with a total gas capacity of 90 million standard cubic meters per day. The pipeline will run from Turkmenistan’s Yoloten-Osman gas field to Heart (Afghanistan) and through southern Afghanistan province of Kandahar, before entering Pakistan.

In Pakistan, it will reach Multan via Quetta before ending at Fazilka (Punjab) in India.

On completion of the project, India is expected to receive 38 mmscmd of gas through the pipeline. The project was initially planned to be completed by end of 2014, but the deadline has now been revised to mid-2016.

Officials said discussions will revolve around having uniform price of gas for all three importing countries.

As per the plan, 38 million standard cubic meters per day of gas would go to India and Pakistan each while 14 mmscmd would be bought by Afghanistan.