ISLAMABAD: The construction of Turkemanistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India gas pipeline project is set to begin in December, officials said Monday after a Turkmenistan delegation met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad.

The Turkmen authorities on Monday told PM Sharif that ground on the pipeline— dubbed TAPI — would be broken this year.

Read: Tapi gas project to be put on fast track

Earlier on Monday, Baymurat Hojamuhamedov, Turkmenistan’s Deputy Prime Minister for Oil and Gas and Special Envoy of Turkmenistan’s president, called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and invited Premier Sharif to attend the ground-breaking ceremony of the project.

The Prime Minister thanked for the invitation adding that Pakistan strongly supported the project and its early completion.

All four countries involved in the project have long planned the ambitious project to meet growing energy needs but administrative issues and unrest in Afghanistan have so far delayed its realisation.

The project is politically complex, requiring cooperation governments, and logistically challenging, as the pipeline would pass through areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan plagued by Taliban and separatist insurgents.

France's Total was working to take the lead on TAPI, but Russia is also said to have expressed interest.

Pakistan, struggling to meet its ever-increasing energy demands, has already renewed efforts to finish its under-construction pipeline from Iran after the landmark deal on Iran's nuclear programme because sanctions on the oil and gas rich country have jeopardised this project.

Also read: Tehran nuclear deal revives hope for Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline

A similar project, the $7.5-billion Iran-Pakistan (IP) pipeline was inaugurated with great fanfare in March 2013 — but the project immediately hit quicksand in the form of international sanctions on Tehran, which meant cash-strapped Pakistan struggled to raise the money to build its side.

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