India joins TAPI gas pipeline project, Deora meets Gillani(Lead, Changing dateline)

April 24th, 2008 - 10:15 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

Islamabad/New Delhi, April 24 (IANS) India Thursday formally joined the Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) gas pipeline project as Indian Petroleum Minister Murli Deora met Pakistan Prime Minister Syed Yusaf Raza Gillani in the first high-level contact between the two neighbours after Pakistani elections . The oil and gas ministers from the four nations signed an Intergovernmental Framework Agreement in Islamabad. The project is expected to supply gas to India by 2014.

India said that the project will help “promote energy security of the participating countries and strengthen regional cooperation”. Deora had attended the last two days of the steering committee’s meeting that started Wednesday. It was decided that the next meeting will take place in India.

As per the agreement, a consortium will execute the pipeline project within six years. The pipeline will traverse a total distance of 1,680 kilometres - out of which only 145 km will be in Turkmenistan, with Afghanistan and Pakistan having to build the major part of the project with 735 km and 800 km of the pipeline respectively.

The pipeline with a diameter of 56 inches will supply 90 million metric standard cubic metre per day (mmscmd) of gas from Turkmenistan’s Daulatabad fields. For the first two years of the project, India and Pakistan will get over 40 mmscmd each, while Afghanistan will receive only five mmscmd.

But, from the third year, Afghanistan’s share will increase almost three fold to 14 mmscmd, with a consequent decrease in the share of the other two countries.

The gas supply, as per the agreement, will be guaranteed according to international norms on the principle of unobstructed transit of gas. The “safety and security” of the pipeline will be provided by the participating governments in their sovereign territories.

The transportation tariff will be calculated on the basis of the cost of service method. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will fund the project.

During his Pakistani visit, Deora met Gillani as part of a collective call-on by the ministers of the four nations.

A government communique said Deora conveyed to Gillani the “warm greetings and best wishes” of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. This was the first high-level contact between the two South Asian neighbours after the Feb 18 general elections.

Tomorrow, Deora will talk with the Pakistani oil minister Khwaja Asif to try to narrow down the differences on transit fee for the other transnational project, Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline (IPI).

Ahead of Deora’s talk with his Pakistani counterpart, Planning Commission member Kirit Parkih said in New Delhi that the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline project should be implemented early as the country was falling short of meeting its future energy requirements.

Speaking at the third South Asia Renewable Energy Conference, Parikh said the gas pipeline project would be discussed at the highest political level when the Iranian President arrives in India at end of this month.

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