ISLAMABAD: Energy-starved Pakistan will finally sign the gas sales purchase agreement (GSPA) with Turkmenistan on April 18 at Ashkhabad, Secretary for the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources Mohammad Ejaz Chaudhry has confirmed.
The secretary said the cost of gas had been finalised at 69 percent of crude oil parity and a Pakistani delegation, headed by the Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources, will reach Ashkhabad and sign on the dotted line after the final round of talks on April 17. (The delegation will reach Turkmenistan after stopping over in Algeria on April 16 for a joint ministerial conference.)
The GSPA is for the import of gas under the long-stalled, $7.6 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project. Under the terms of the proposed project, the 1,640-km-long TAPI gas pipeline was to bring 3.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day (bcfd) from Turkmenistanís gas fields to Multan in central Pakistan and terminate in the northwestern Indian town of Fazilka. Of this, Pakistan was to get 1.365 bcfd gas, India 1.365 bfcd and Afghanistan another 0.5 bcfd. Each buyer country was to ink bilateral deals with Turkmenistan while India was said to have already finalised its deal. Provided Afghanistan manages to provide security for the pipeline, Pakistan is to get gas by December 2016.
However, in a recent development, Afghanistan has refused to take gas from Turkmenistan under the TAPI project, arguing it has neither the infrastructure nor the gas supply network required to absorb the gas. So far, Kabul has only expressed its interest in getting transit fee from the other countries.
Chaudhry says that if Kabul sticks to its stance of not taking gas, its share will be equally divided between Pakistan and India. He said Pakistan has also asked India to pay it the same amount of transit fee it will pay Afghanistan but New Delhi isnít listening. The Indian point is that the length of pipeline running through Afghanistan is much more than that in Pakistan and most of it is on difficult terrain.
During the recent talks in India regarding the TAPI project, Chaudhry said Pakistan had sought 50 Cents per mmbtu as transit fee from New Delhi while Kabul had asked Islamabad for 41-45 Cents per mmbtu. Pakistan hopes to get its way with India in the next round of talks on transit fees, which will be held in Kabul. India will have to pay two transit fees ñ to Afghanistan as well as to Pakistan ñ while Pakistan will have to pay transit fee only to Afghanistan.