LAHORE: China has formally approached the Pakistani authorities and submitted a proposal for a China-Turkmenistan pipeline that is to cross several Central Asian mountain ranges.
“It would be cheaper and easier for China to build one from Pakistan’s territory to cross the Karakoram range to its western border,” said the Managing Director of Inter State Gas Systems (ISGS) Mobin Saulat explained while talking to Dawn on Monday.
“Since the Chinese government has contacted us just recently, their case/proposal has been shared with Turkmenistan where it is currently passing through an evaluation process,” he added.
Pakistan is likely to sign the host country agreement before the mid of next month or in January 2019, to allow formally the laying and passing of the TAPI gas pipeline through its territory and facilitating India to connect it near the Fazilka district.
Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to inaugurate the 780km-long portion of the TAPI project, Dawn has learnt.
“A high profile delegation from Turkmenistan plans to visit Islamabad by the end of November. But, due to various engagements, we want it to visit during the next month’s first week,” said Managing Director Inter State Gas Systems (ISGS) Mobin Saulat explained while talking to Dawn on Monday.
Pakistan will play as the host country in this agreement with Turkmenistan over giving of transit rights for laying the pipeline, facilitating India to connect it in its territory with its origin point-Fazilka district — near Multan (Pakistan’s territory where our portion of the pipeline ends.
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.
The signing ceremony has been delayed since December 2017. Though the outgoing PML-N led government once planned to sign the agreement and get the civil work launched during May, it couldn’t do so after the quarters concerned left the same on interim or next elected government.
“Besides signing agreement, the delegation would also hold meetings with the top government officials concerned. It would also seek time from the premier for opening of the civil work on our portion of TAPI. Thus, we are expecting that the PM will inaugurate the civil works of this landmark project whenever it takes place,” Saulat maintained.
He added that Pakistan has completed the entire preparatory works (survey, mapping, soil tests, land acquisition etc) required ahead of launching the civil work for laying the pipeline.
Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2018