Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Talks on TAPI gas pipeline project begin in India

NEW DELHI: Official talks on Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) gas pipeline project began discussing gas sales and other details of the $7.6 billion project but are unlikely to conclude any agreement at the end of four day talks, Press trust of India PTI reported on Tuesday.

India is hosting the high level talks, which among other things, is to deliberate on a Gas Sale and Purchase Agreement (GSPA) and project structure.

"The four-day talks began Monday and will continue till April 28. An official communique is likely to be issued at end of talks on Thursday," an official said.

Technical Working Group (TWG) on TAPI project are holding meetings on the first three days and steering the committee of to meet on April 28 which will be attended by the Oil Ministers of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

However, GSPA is unlikely to be finalized in these talks and the four nations may agree for another date for holding further discussions.

"GSPA was originally to be concluded by April end but it looks unlikely. The deadline is likely to be extended till July 31," another official said.

The talks will focus on the proposed appointment of Transaction Advisor for assisting in forming a consortium which will lay and operate the pipeline. It will also raise funds for TAPI gas pipeline project after signing of GSPA.

The four countries, which had in December signed Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) and Gas Pipeline Framework Agreement (GPFA), have decided to jointly form a consortium for the pipeline and the consortium will be headed by an international company having similar experience.

TAPI project envisages 1,735 km pipeline with total gas capacity of 90 million standard cubic meters per day. It will run from Turkmenistan's Yoloten-Osman gas field to Herat in Afghanistan and through southern Afghanistan province of Kandahar before entering Pakistan where it will reach Multan via Quetta before ending at Fazilka in India.

On completion, India is expected to receive 38mmscmd of gas through the pipeline. The project was initially planned to be completed by end of 2014, but the deadline has now been revised to mid 2016.

Discussions will revolve around having uniform price of gas for all three of the importing countries. As per plan, 38 million standard cubic meters per day of gas would go to India and Pakistan each while 14 mmscmd would be bought by Afghanistan.

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