Monday, 2 May 2011

Trans-Afghanistan gas pipeline agreement

Trans-Afghanistan gas pipeline agreement to be signed this week
Submitted by May-Ling Tan on December 9, 2010 – 8:12 pmNo Comment
India and Pakistan are set to sign-up to the controversial $7.6bn Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project on Friday 10 December when oil ministers and heads of states from the four countries meet in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat.

The project is backed by the Asian Development Bank and construction will begin early next year. The pipeline is expected to be completed in 2014 – assuming that there are no unexpected interruptions. It will provide a further route to market for gas from Turkmenistan, which had been reliant upon Russian pipelines to get to market until the development of the Central Asia-China gas pipeline that crosses both Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan before entering China via Xinjiang province.

It is hoped that it will also aid the development of Afghanistan’s own resources. Afghanistan’s Minister of Mines Wahidullah Shahrani said that preparations have already been made to develop the Sheberghan gas field in northern Afghanistan, which has estimated reserves of around 225 billion cubic metres. The Kashgari oil block in the Amu Darya basin and the oil reserves of Mazar-e-Sharif – both also in northern Afghanistan – are also poised for development, he added.

Afghanistan itself has mineral deposits estimated at between $1 trillion and $3 trillion with the potential, according to Shahrani, of generating revenues of $3.5bn annually over the next 15 years.

The 1,680 kilometre TAPI pipeline will run from the Dauletabad gas field in Ahal province of Turkmenistan, close to the border with Iran, to Afghanistan. From there, TAPI will run alongside the highway running from Herat to Kandahar, and then via Quetta and Multan in Pakistan. The final destination of the pipeline will be the Indian town of Fazilka, on Pakistan’s border with India.

The pipeline was initially devised in March 1995 and has had a long and tortuous birth, with consortium members and governments coming and going at frequent intervals. India was invited to join the project in 2008, given increasing demand for energy from the fast growing Asian ‘tiger’ economy. The Afghan government is expected to receive 8% of the project’s revenue, adding some fiscal ballast to its finances.

The pipeline will be 1,420 millimetres in diameter with a working pressure of 100 standard atmospheres (10,000 kPa). The initial capacity will be 27 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas per year, of which two bcm will be provided to Afghanistan and 12.5 bcm to Pakistan and India each. The capacity will later be increased to 33 bcm. Six compressor stations will be constructed along the pipeline and it is expected to become operational by 2014.

COURTESY - Global Energy magazine

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