Wednesday April 17, 2024

Dead winds for TAPI as ADB stops work till recognition of Taliban regime

By Khalid Mustafa
March 08, 2022

ISLAMABAD: In a new development, the much touted and already delayed trans-nations $10bn TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas line project has landed into hot waters, as Asian Development Bank (ADB) has paused all due diligence and processing activities until Taliban regime is acknowledged and legitimized by the UN and big economies of the world, a top official of Energy Ministry told while quoting the proceedings of the recently held meeting in Islamabad between top Turkmen and Pakistani functionaries.

“The major portion of the pipeline is to pass through Afghanistan. The ADB that was earlier acting as the facilitator and coordinator of the project has paused the project putting the fate of the gas line in the doldrums.

The TAPI gas pipeline has a length of 1,680km pipeline with a design capacity of 3.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per annum (Bcfd). It was to be laid down from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan up to the Pak-India border.

The TAPI pipeline is proposed to be laid down through from Herat – Kandahar – Chaman – Zhob – DG Khan – Multan and reach Fazilika- a city at the Indian border. However, in the wake of ADB’s lack of interest, the project is touted for more delays.

Under the trans-nations pipeline, Pakistan and India will be provided 1.325 bcfd (billion cubic feet per day) gas each and Afghanistan will get 0.5 bcfd gas share under this project. So much so the Turkmenistan Gas Company has failed to secure financial closure after many years. Earlier it was to achieve the financial closure in 2016 which was forwarded to 2021 with the likelihood that the project would be functional from 2023. Now under the latest scenario, ADB has ceased all its activities.

A meeting of the Turkmenistan official delegation headed by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Vepa Hajiyev with Pakistani officials headed by Energy Minister Hammad Azhar took place on January 31, 2022. The Turkmen side disclosed that ADB has declined its interest in the project on accord with global non recognition of the Taliban regime.

However, both sides resolved to work on the project. When Energy Minister Hammad Azhar was asked if ADB has stopped its activities and Turkmen gas company has failed to attain the financial closure of the project?. The ADB spokesman, on the other hand, confirmed the development saying that ADB’s assistance has been placed on hold.

The ADB, he said “has paused all its TAPI project due diligence and processing activities until further notice.” As the international community continues to assess the evolving situation in Afghanistan, the ADB would hold its assistance in Afghanistan effective from 15 August 2021. The ADB continues to consult with our shareholders and other stakeholders to monitor the situation in Afghanistan.