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dna exclusive: Cautious India plans strategic cover to secure future of TAPI gas pipeline

Wednesday, 15 January 2014 - 9:51am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA

India wants to secure the future of the ambitious Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India  (TAPI) gas pipeline by having a US-based company to head the consortium of project.

The demand for having a US-based company is key to providing stability to the interests of the involved parties in the $7.6 billion gas pipeline which has seen many ups and downs ever since the idea of having a transnational pipeline was floated. The consortium leader will be responsible for the design, funding, building, control and subsequent operations of the pipeline.

The US has backed the TAPI pipeline as an alternative to the Iran-Pakistan-India line in its efforts to choke Tehran financially over its suspected nuclear weapon programme.

The Indian government has said that a consortium leader will be appointed in the next three months.  “We raised the issue of having a US-based company as the leader of the consortium. This would ensure that in case of any political tension between India and Pakistan, there would not be any impact on the transit of gas,” said a petroleum ministry official.

India on Tuesday had a meeting with the advisor to the president of Turkmenistan and appointed transactional advisor for the 1,680 km pipeline which is expected to promote peace in the region through linking of economic interests of the involved nations. 

The route of the pipeline goes through the Taliban heartland of Kandahar in south Afghanistan and through the volatile area of Quetta city in Pakistani and the fringes of the Baluchistan, where the government faces separatist movement leading to highly volatile situation.

Critics of the pipeline have always questioned the financial viability of the pipeline and has always insisted on ensuring the pipeline through international obligations. While, the pipeline is important for the energy interests of India, the project has found it difficult to attract investors due to high geopolitical risks involved in it. The TAPI pipeline will have a capacity to carry 90 million metric standard cubic metres a day of gas for a 30-year period and is India expects to receive gas from the pipeline by August 2020.

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