TAPI gas pipeline project to begin in 2010

Friday, 25 April 2008, 05:19 Hrs
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Islamabad: Oil ministers from Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) signed a draft framework Thursday, agreeing to start construction work of the TAPI gas pipeline project in 2010.

The project cost has risen to $7.6 billion from an originally estimated $3.3 billion in 2004, the official Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) said.

After two-day talks in the Pakistan's capital, the ministers from the four nations told a joint press conference that the construction work on the delayed TAPI pipeline project will be inaugurated in 2010.

The talks on the project have been under way since 2002.

This is the first time India, which was invited as an observer to the Asian Development Bank funded project in 2006, is participating in talks on the pipeline as a full-fledged member.

Despite the significant cost escalation, the project is still considered as economically and financially viable, APP quoted Pakistan petroleum minister Khwaja Asif as saying.

The proposed pipeline project starts from Turkmenistan's Daulatabad field through Herat and Kandahar in Afghanistan to Multan in Pakistan, and finally extends up to Pakistan-India border.

Indian Petroleum Minister Murli Deora, whose visit marks the first formal contact between India and Pakistan since the new Pakistani coalition government took office last month, will also hold talks with Pakistan on the $7-billion Iran- Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project Friday.

The IPI talks will be the first time between the two sides since last June.

New Delhi has not been attending talks on the IPI project since mid-2007 over differences on the transit fee and transportation tariff to be charged by Pakistan for Iranian gas sent to India.

Analysts say Deora's talks with his Pakistani counterpart Khwaja Asif will be aimed at narrowing down these differences.
Source: IANS
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