PM Modi’s visit to Turkmenistan: TAPI tops agenda


tapi1It’s no longer a pipedream. The long-discussed TAPI pipeline is moving ahead, with India expected to push for fast-tracking this $10-billion project during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Turkmenistan.
Energy security will top the agenda of Mr Modi’s forthcoming visit to Central Asian states, which is expected to lead to a clutch of energy deals with Stans states. The TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India) gas pipeline project will be on top of the prime minister’s agenda to Turkmenistan. “This is a major project which has potential from our energy security point of view. TAPI will certainly be a point which will be discussed and we will have to explore how we can move this project forward very quickly. It has tremendous potential for helping us get Central Asian gas to India,” Navtej Sarna, Secretary (West) in India’s external affairs ministry, said ahead of Mr Modi’s visit to Turkmenistan July 10-11.
TAPI is expected to bring Turkmenistan natural gas from its giant Dauletabad and Galkynysh gas fields to Pakistan and India. The pipeline aims to export up to 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas per year through the 1,800-km pipeline from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.  Turkmenistan’s envoy to India Parakhat H. Durdyev said recently at a discussion on India-Central Asia relations that TAPI should take off since all the concerned parties have committed themselves to it. He also said the legal framework of the pipeline would be finalized by September after which the consortium for the project would be announced and the project is expected to take off in December.
The important point to note here is that despite India expressing security concerns relating to sections of the pipeline, which could be vulnerable to attacks by militants active in the region, Prime Minister Modi has decided to revive the talks for the project despite India not engaging bilaterally with Pakistan at this point of time. This goes to show the priority India is giving to the TAPI project, which could emerge as the energy lifeline of the region.