President to ink historic TAPI agreement at Ashgabat

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari will join heads of state of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan at Ashgabat on Dec 11 to ink around US 7.6 billion gas pipeline project to fuel its industries.The 1640 kmlong Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline will pass through the volatile Afghan territory to link with Pakistan’s national gas network near Multan and terminate at Fazilka in India.Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is not likely to attend the signing of the “inter-governmental agreement” as he has left on a three-day visit to Belgium to participate in the India-EU summit, diplomatic sources said.Indian Petroleum Minister Murli Deora is likely to lead the Indian delegation.The project conceived in 1995 was initially designed to provide gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan, through Afghanistan.  However, India was later invited to join the project in 2008.

President Zardari will also hold bilateral meetings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and discuss further strengthening of ties in all spheres.Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Naveed Qamar will ink an agreement on Gas Pipeline Framework Agreement (GPFA) at Ashgabat on Dec 10, that has already been approved by the federal cabinet.Under the project Pakistan will get 30 billion cubic meters of gas annually and has also indicated that in case India backs out at any stage, it will be willing to purchase the additional gas.Turkmenistan has the world’s fourth largest proven reserves of gas and is already providing gas to Russia and China.Following the inking international bids will be sought from energy companies to launch the project that is likely to be completed by 2014.Ashgabat is likely to include “Southern Yoloten-Osman” gas fields in addition to the Dovletabad fields in the project to ensure regular supply. Pakistan is likely to offer assistance in the development of these gas fields – App