Turkmenistan has begun work on an ambitious 1,800-kilometrelong (1,118 miles) pipeline carrying gas from the former Soviet state to energyhungry India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, state media reported Friday.
“Specialists of the Institute of Oil and Gas in the ‘Turkmengaz’ state corporation have started engineering and surveying work on the route for the future gas pipeline Turkmenistan-AfghanistanPakistan-India (TAPI),” state newspaper Neutral Turkmenistan reported, adding that the construction of the pipeline itself would begin in December.
The four countries have long planned the ambitious project to meet growing energy needs, but administrative issues and unrest in Afghanistan have so far delayed its realisation.
The four sides agreed last month that state company Turkmengaz would lead the consortium for the $10-billion project, although foreign commercial partners are also expected to participate.
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said last month that Japanese and Korean companies had expressed interest in investing into TAPI and has invited Turkish companies to join the bidding process.
International energy majors Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Total had been rumoured to be interested in the project but are no longer thought to be contenders for the contract.
TAPI is expected to ship up to 33 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas annually starting in 2018, most of which will be absorbed by India and Pakistan.
The project is key for ex-Soviet Turkmenistan, whose economy is almost entirely hydrocarbon-based and heavily dependent on China, which accounts for over 75 percent of its gas sales.