India on Saturday signed agreements to import natural gas from Turkmenistan through an ADB-based USD 7.6 billion gas pipeline passing through Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Oil Minister Murli Deora signed the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) and the Gas Pipeline Framework Agreement for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline in Ashgabat.
“Today is a very important day, not just for India, but for all the countries (in the TAPI project),” he said at the signing ceremony attended by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.
The agreements are commitments of the four nations to building of the project even as New Delhi voiced concerns over safe delivery of gas through the pipeline that would pass Taliban stronghold Kandahar province and then into Pakistan’s restive tribal areas.
“There are issues that need to be addressed. We have to come to a decision regarding the price of gas, security of the pipeline, certainty of the gas supply, transit fee and setting up of the consortium (to build the pipeline),” Deora said.
The rival Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline has been on drawing boards for more than a decade mostly because of security concern over safe passage of gas in Pakistani territory.
“Quite obviously, our goal is not merely the construction of the pipeline, but also continuous and uninterrupted flow of Turkmen natural gas over several decades,” he said.
The IGA signed today “offers guarantee for the security and safety of the pipeline as also of the personnel involved in the project.”
“We take this guarantee as a solemn promise from the government of Afghanistan and Pakistan and this gives us the confidence to go ahead with the project”.
“We are here because of our commitment to a “pipeline of peace,” which would pass through our countries for our mutual benefit and prosperity,” he said, adding India needs gas from the Central Asian nation to meet energy needs of its fast growing economy.
The TAPI pipeline has been proposed to transport gas from the gas fields in Turkmenistan to India through Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a Lead Development Partner of the Project.
The total length of the pipeline passing through Afghanistan and Pakistan is 1,650 kilometers before entering India at Fazilka, Punjab.
As per the plan, 38 million standard cubic meters per day of gas would go to India and Pakistan each while 14 mmscmd would be bought by Afghanistan