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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Turkmenistan on Tuesday signed a Host Government Agreement (HGA) for implementation of up to $8 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline and agreed to set up a working group to finalise an agreement on transmission line of up to 1,000MW electricity.

The signing of HGA would enable the Interstate Gas Company — a subsidiary of Pakistan’s petroleum division — and TAPI Project Company Ltd (TPCL) — a joint company of the four countries — to enter into a formal technical implementation agreement for the ground-breaking ceremony (GBC) of the section of pipeline in Pakistan within two to three months.

Similar GBCs for construction of about 200km pipeline in Turkmenistan and about 800km in Afghanistan have already taken place and project implementation has started. Turkmenistan holds about 85pc shares of TPCL while remaining shares are equally held by Pakistan, Afghanistan and India at the rate of 5pc.

Work on section of pipeline in Pakistan likely to begin within two-three months

The HGA was signed by Petroleum Secretary Mian Asad Hayauddin from the Pakistani side and CEO of TPCL Amanov. Pakistan’s Minister for Pet­ro­leum Ghulam Sarwar Khan and Turk­men Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov and Energy Minister Döwran Rejepow attended the signing ceremony.

Mr Khan welcomed the signing of HGA as an important event to push forward the TAPI gas pipeline project and reiterated Pakistan’s complete commitment towards early and successful implementation of the project.

The Turkmen foreign minister apprised the Pakistani side of Turkmenistan’s initiatives in ensuring that the timelines of the project were being met and appreciated the signing of HDA as a major milestone and Pakistan’s continued commitment to and active interest in the TAPI gas project.

Mr Meredov said his country was working on a plan to make a transport and energy corridor between Pakistan and Turkmenistan via Afghanistan and to lay an optic-fibre network parallel to the route of the pipeline and see its possible extension till China.

The TAPI gas pipeline project aims to bring natural gas from Gylkynish and adjacent gas fields in Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The Asian Development Bank is acting as the facilitator and coordinator for the project.

The project is a 56-inch diameter 1,680km pipeline with design capacity of 3.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan up to Pak-India border.

There are two phases of this project. The first phase is free flow phase with estimated cost of $5 to $6bn while the second phase is the installation of compressor stations with estimated cost of $1.9bn to $2bn. Civil works of the project have already commenced in Afghanistan after the project’s ground breaking (Afghan section) was held last year.

Both Turkmenistan and Pakistan resolved to hold the Steering Committee meeting of the project during the current month. The tenders relating to this project will be analysed in the next two months and construction equipment will be procured in May 2019, according to a statement issued by the petroleum division. It said the land would be acquired in July 2019.

At a separate meeting with power division led by Minister Omar Ayub Khan, the visiting Turkmen ministers also decided to set up a joint working group to conclude negotiations on CASA-1000 transmission line project at the earliest.

The visiting delegation also had a meeting with Minister for Finance Asad Umar and discussed economic cooperation between the two friendly nations. Mr Umar explained benefits of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to the delegation saying Pakistan was set to become the hub of economic activities once the project was completed.

Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2019