India discusses TAPI pipeline project with Afghanistan

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New Delhi, Jan.10 (ANI): Energy starved India believes Afghanistan can play a crucial role as a major energy trade and transit hub in the future and could act as a energy bridge between Central and South East Asia.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna discussed the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline with the Afghan leadership during his recently concluded two-day visit to Kabul.

The pipeline would offer a major financial stimulus to war-ravaged Afghanistan in the form of transit fees and could transform Afghanistan into a major energy transit and trade hub, said a highly placed source.

New Delhi believes that unlike the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline which is fraught with security, costing and fears of sanctions, the TAPI is more viable and has more explicit clauses of uninterrupted gas supply.

The participation of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan in the consortium is also making New Delhi more comfortable in going ahead with 1,080-mile-long pipeline which would carry gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan and into India.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has already done a feasibility study of the proposed project and TAPI has the backing of the bank. The EU, Russia and US have also favoured the TAPI Pipeline which is not the case with the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline ,said sources.

Officials, however, continue to argue that it is not the case of either and or, adding that energy starved India has the potential to have both pipelines.

he preliminary TAPI agreement between the four nations has already been signed. The ambitious project which may cost around three billion dollars is yet to secure financing for construction or to agree on commercial terms for the sales, according to news reports.

The proposed natural gas pipeline would stretch from the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan border in southeastern Turkmenistan to Multan, Pakistan (790 miles, 1,271 kilometers), with a 400-mile (640-kilometer) extension to India. TAPI will run from the Dovetabat gas deposit in Turkmenistan to the Indian town of Fazilka, near the border between Pakistan and India. 6 compressor stations are to be constructed along the pipeline. By Naveen Kapoor (ANI)

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