In this Feb 23, 2018 photo, performers attend the launching ceremony of construction work of the TAPI project on the Afghan section of a natural gas pipeline that will link Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India, near the town of Serhetabat, Turkmenistan.—Reuters
In this Feb 23, 2018 photo, performers attend the launching ceremony of construction work of the TAPI project on the Afghan section of a natural gas pipeline that will link Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India, near the town of Serhetabat, Turkmenistan.—Reuters

AVAZA: Turkmenistan plans to secure within a few months all the necessary funding to complete the construction of an $8 billion natural gas pipeline to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, the project’s chief executive said on Wednesday.

The Central Asian nation is building the Tapi pipeline to diversify its gas exports, which have mostly gone to China.

“We expect the financing to be completed in the third quarter, within the next three-four months,” Muhammetmyrat Amanov, chief executive of Tapi Pipeline company, told an industry conference in the Turkmen resort of Avaza.

He said his company was in talks with several export credit agencies such as Italy’s SACE and France’s Hermes, as well as Greek export credit insurer ECIO.

Tapi hopes to open the pipeline next year, although security risks, including an attack this week by unknown gunmen on Tapi mine-clearance workers in which six were killed, has raised doubts among analysts about whether it will be finished on time.

Amanov did not say how much money Tapi has already raised or mention security issues such as this week’s attack.

Tapi said in a brief statement on Tuesday that work continued on schedule despite the attack.

APP adds: Pakistan is scheduled to sign gas transportation and transit fee agreements, pipeline service rules and complete Front End Engineering Design (FEED) activities under Tapi project during next fiscal year.

Tapi project activities including signing of gas transportation agreement, pipeline service rules, transit fee agreement and completion of FEED work will be implemented during 2018-19, official sources told APP.

In February this year, sources said the Tapi project was making a tangible progress and had entered Afghanistan from Turkmenistan after the latter completed construction of gas pipeline in its section.

Answering a question, sources said Inter State Gas Systems (Pvt) Ltd (ISGSL) — which is the project execution company in Pakistan — had initiated Tapi’s FEED activities in the country in March 2017.

Since then the company has moved diligently towards Tapi gas pipelines practical implementation, they added.

The Tapi gas pipeline, first envisaged in the 90s had been lying in the back-burner for many years but saw revitalisation in the present governments tenure, which made it a key component of the governments National Energy Policy to import gas.

Sources expressed confidence that the pipeline would substantially add inexpensive, reliable and environment friendly energy into Pakistan’s national pool and help achieve socioeconomic progress in the region.

Under the project, a 56-inch diameter 1,680km pipeline, having capacity to flow 3.2 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) gas, would be laid from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan up to the Pak-India border, which is scheduled to complete in the year 2020.

Through the pipeline, funded by Asian Development Bank, Pakistan and India would be provided 1.325 bcfd gas each and Afghanistan would be getting the share of 0.5 bcfd gas.

Meanwhile, sources informed that in Pakistan, financial close of the Tapi gas pipeline was expected to be achieved this year, following which construction work would start on this multi-billion dollar project.

They said Tapi Pipeline Company Limited (TPCL), the project executing company, had been jointly formed by the four Tapi parties which appointed the consultant to undertake the Pre-FID activities including the detailed survey of the entire route, environment impact assessment studies and FEED.

The sources informed that the procurement process for lines pipe, long lead items and appointment of Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractor had been started. The company has appointed a legal counsel for rendering legal services on the agreements to be executed by the company, sources added.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2018