The multi-billion US dollar TAPI pipeline will transport natural gas from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan to Pakistan and to India. The 1,735-kilometer pipeline will run from the Dauletabad gas field in Turkmenistan to Afghanistan. Within Afghanistan TAPI will be constructed alongside the highway running south to Herat and then to Kandahar and onto Quetta and Multan in Pakistan. The final destination of the multi-nation pipeline will be the Indian town of Fazilka, in the Punjab near the Pakistan-India border.
The pipeline will be designed to carry 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Turkmen gas annually, and both Pakistan and India through state-owned companies would each purchase 42 % of that volume (13.8 bcm). Meanwhile, Afghanistan would purchase 16 % of that gas which would amount to 5.11 bcm. In addition, Afghanistan will be entitled to receive a transit fee for the use of its territory from each of the other TAPI buyers.
The pipeline is expected to be 1,420 millimeters (56 inches) in diameter and will have a working pressure of 100 standard atmospheres (10,000 kPa). The initial annual capacity will be 27 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas. Thereafter the capacity will be increased to 33 bcm.
The pipeline would run for nearly 1,735 kilometers , including 735 kilometers across Afghanistan and another 800 kilometers through Pakistan. Compressor stations would be constructed at different points of the pipeline.
The key to the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project is of course the pricing, which has to be competitive with alternative sources of energy.
TAPI member countries have regularly held multilateral and bilateral meetings, including recently in Turkmenistan, to address various commercial, operational and technical issues. Final agreement is expected in the not too distant future.
The four countries signed the TAPI gas pipeline deal in September 2010, raising hopes of having a energy rich tomorrow. The TAPI pipeline project has moved forward since then. In January 2011 India’s External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna discussed with the Afghan leadership the role Afghanistan can play as a major energy trade and transit hub, and the possibilities of transforming the war ravaged country into a pivotal and significant energy bridge between Central and South Asia.
The trans-Afghanistan pipeline, as pointed out by experts, is an economically viable project. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) carried out a feasibility study of the proposed project and TAPI has the Bank’s support. The EU and US also provide international support for the TAPI pipeline project. The goal is for the pipeline to be operational by 2016.
TAPI will serve as a source of power and energy for industries, which could use its gas as their power supply. Establishing gas based medium capacity power plants and gas-consuming industries will be productive and useful investment. Such power plants and grids will provide solid investment opportunities for domestic and international manufacturers and provide small industries the chance to grow and create needed jobs.
Moreover, TAPI as a large pipeline construction project will create significant windows of opportunities for companies to participate in the construction of the pipeline and offer employment opportunities for many.