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LAHORE: A delegation comprising officials of the Dubai-based TAPI Ltd is set to reach Islamabad this month to sign various agreements and contracts for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakis­tan-India Pipeline, Federal Minis­ter for Petroleum and Natural Res­ou­rces Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said on Saturday.

Talking to Dawn, he said the TAPI consortium, led by Turkmengaz (the national gas company of Turkmenistan), is serious about the project deadline which is set for 2019.

The ongoing construction work on the portion falling in Turkmenistan shows their commitment, he added.

Mr Abbasi, however, was not optimistic about the execution of the Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline Project in near future, especially in view of fresh sanctions imposed by the United States.

“This project is already on hold for the last couple of years after the US imposed sanctions on Iran. What will be the impact of fresh sanctions on this project, we will come to know soon after studying the list of companies blacklisted by the US under latest sanctions,” he explained.

He said Pakistan has signed the agreement on IP pipeline with the National Iranian Oil Company – a state run subsidiary of the Iranian government.

Hopefully the name of this company will not be in the list of companies blacklisted by the US, Mr Abbasi said. “If the name shows up in the black list, this project will be in further trouble,” the minister added.

Pakistan is expected to initiate civil works on the 780km long portion of TAPI which falls in its territory by the end of this year, a senior official of the Inter State Gas Systems (ISGS) said on Saturday.

The 1,800km long pipeline, which begins from the Galkynysh gas field in Turkmenistan, passes through Herat and Kandahar in Afghanistan, moves through Pakistan via Quetta and Multan and concludes at Fazilka in India.

Various activities, including signing of respective contracts and preparatory works including route survey are likely to begin by end of this month, the official said.

“We are well prepared to assist the TAPI consortium and respective firms for the accomplishment of various tasks. We are hopeful that the civil work on the pipeline’s portion, which falls in our territory, will be launched by end of this year or by January, next year,” said ISGS Managing Director Mobin Saulat.

Talking to Dawn, the chief of ISGS – a subsidiary of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources – said a German firm (ILF) has already been engaged as the project management consultant by the TAPI consortium. The team is likely to start various works related to route survey, designing, planning and feasibility studies within this month.

Turkmenistan, being a lead partner or leader of the TAPI consortium, has already started construction work on the portion falling in its territory last year. The consortium has also established a company based in Dubai to supervise and execute the project that is planned to be completed by December, 2019.

Published in Dawn February 5th, 2017