7.6-bn-dollar TAPI gas pipeline accord inked

Ashgabat, Dec 12 (ANI): Pakistan has joined India, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan in signing the long awaited over 7.6-billion-dollar gas pipeline project to help meet its sharply rising industrial and domestic demands.

Almost 15 years after the project was envisioned, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and Indian Petroleum Minister Murli Deora signed the inter-governmental agreement (IGA).

"We shall work together to bring this project to early fruition," the Daily Times quoted Zardari, as saying in his address to the summit to ink the historic Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) agreement.

"This resource-rich region can complement the economies of our countries," he said, adding that trans-regional development cooperation held the key to promoting durable stability and economic development in the region.

In a statement to reporters, Zardari said gas connectivity through the project would add to regional prosperity by increasing synergies of economies, and would reinforce the institutional framework for expanding cooperation with each other.

The president welcomed Pakistan's partnership in the project, saying it was an energy deficient country, and added that Islamabad's keenness for successful implementation of TAPI was evident of its quest for shared prosperity and economic development.

The 1,680 kilometre long TAPI gas pipeline, backed by the Asian Development Bank, would bring 3.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day (bcfd) from Turkmenistan's gas fields to Multan in central Pakistan and end in the northwestern Indian town of Fazilka. Under the IGA, all four nations would commit to provide government support, including security for the pipeline.

The construction of the pipeline is likely to commence soon and would be completed by 2013-14. The project would help overcome Pakistan's growing energy crisis that has caused electricity shortage and protests across the country. (ANI)

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