Friday September 29, 2023

$10bn TAPI gas pipeline project: Pakistan, Turkmenistan to sign implementation plan today

June 08, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Turkmenistan would sign today (Thursday) a Joint Implementation Plan to materialize the much-delayed $10 billion trans-nations TAPI gas pipeline, a senior official told The News. The ceremony, however, is taking place despite not achieving financial closure by the Turkmenistan gas company and ADB’s refusal to perform due diligence until the Taliban regime is recognised by the UN. “Chairman of Turkmengas Maksat Babayev with an experts team is currently in Pakistan to finalize the joint implementation plan for the TAPI project. His team held technical talks with Pakistani counterparts and is likely Pakistan and Turkmenistan will today (Thursday) ink a Joint Implementation Plan. The signing ceremony will take place in the Prime Minister’s office. Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India are part of the project.” Surprisingly, the project is being signed despite the fact that the Turkmen gas company has failed to achieve financial closure of the project scheduled to be attained in December 2016, officials said. They further highlighted that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has paused all due diligence and other processing activities until the Taliban regime is acknowledged and legitimized by the UN and big economies of the world since “the major portion of the pipeline is to pass through Afghanistan.” The ADB pause has put the fate of the gas line in the doldrums.

However, sources told The News that “Pakistan is likely to suggest Turkmenistan lay down some portion of the gas line up to Herat in Afghanistan and Pakistan will also lay the pipeline up to the Afghan border. In the meanwhile, they will work to ensure international recognition for the Taliban regime so that the stalled energy project moves ahead.” Earlier, on January 31, 2022, a meeting of the Turkmenistan official delegation headed by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Vepa Hajiyev with Energy Minister Hammad Azhar took place. During the meeting, the Turkmen side disclosed that the ADB has stopped working on the project. The project would be completed and commissioned at 30:70 percent equity and loan business plan. Out of 30 percent equity, Turkmenistan has an 85 percent share, and Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India each have a five percent share. Pakistan’s equity stands at $200 million. And the remaining 70 percent of the funding would be based on loans that the TAPI consortium will arrange from International Financial Institutions.