India signs four-nation Turkmenistan gas pipeline deal (Lead)

December 12th, 2010 - 3:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Ashgabat (Turkmenistan), Dec 12 (IANS) India, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan signed two pacts Saturday on a gas pipeline project linking the four countries.The four nations signed an inter-government agreement on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) Natural Gas Pipeline Framework, as well as a deal on measures to implement the project in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan.

The presidents of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan attended the signing ceremony, while the Indian delegation was headed by Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Murli Deora.

After the ceremony, Deora said the four sides should handle several tough issues such as price and safety.

Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov told Xinhua that after the pipeline, with a length of 1,735 km, was constructed, Turkmenistan would send enough natural gas to the other three countries to meet the needs of their fast developing economy.

Berdymukhamedov, however, did not reveal the detailed content of the agreement.

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai said Afghanistan would secure the construction and operation of the pipeline.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said the successful transmission of natural gas would highly promote the economic development in the three countries, and would also help combat terrorism.

According to reports, after the pipeline is built, Turkmenistan will transport about 33 billion cubic metres of natural gas. The whole project would cost $4 billion.

The project, conceived in 1995, was initially designed to provide gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan through Afghanistan. India was invited to join the project in 2008.

Turkmenistan has the world’s fourth largest proven reserves of gas and is already providing gas to Russia and China.

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