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India to host next steering committee meeting of TAPI gas pipeline

India will host the next steering committee meeting of the proposed 1,814 kilometre-long Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline.

The decision to host came during the sixth joint Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) meeting on trade, economic, scientific and technological cooperation between India and Turkmenistan held in New Delhi.

The meeting was co-chaired by Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan and visiting Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredov.

The meeting was held in the background of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposal to hold the TAPI steering committee meet in Delhi when he met the Turkmenistan President in Ashgkabad in 2016, which he has now accepted. The last steering committee meeting, scheduled to be held annually, took place in April 2016.

TAPI Gas Pipeline

The 1,814 kilometre-long Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline was first proposed in 1995 and its ground-breaking ceremony was held in December 2015. It is expected to be operational by 2019.

TAPI gas pipeline, also known as Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline, is a natural gas pipeline being developed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The pipeline will transport Caspian Sea natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India.

The pipeline will have a capacity will be 33 billion cubic metres (1.2 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas per year of which 5 billion cubic metres (180 billion cubic feet) will be provided to Afghanistan and 14 billion cubic metres (490 billion cubic feet) to each Pakistan and India.

Originally, the cost of the pipeline project was reportedly estimated at US$7.6 billion, but a more recent estimate was $10 billion.

Strategic Significance to India

TAPI is not just a commercial project, but one which will be a good foundation for providing peace and security in the region. Once completed, TAPI can become a game changer in regional geopolitics and regional economic integration. It is an integral part of the American ‘New Silk Road Strategy’.

It will enable India to have access to Turkmenistan’s Galkynysh gasfields, which are the fourth largest in the world.

It will also enable India to stave off any Chinese interest in the project, given that Turkmenistan is a close partner of China in its Belt and Road initiative across Central Asia, and Beijing is the largest buyer of its gas. Even the Galkynysh gas basin is being developed under a loan from the Chinese Development Bank (CDB).

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