Partners move closer to TAPI pipeline

Jan. 26, 2012 at 7:13 AM

NEW DELHI, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Pakistan and India made considerable progress in talks over a multibillion-dollar gas pipeline planned from nearby Turkmenistan, a minister said.

Pakistani and Indian officials met in New Delhi to discuss prospects for the $7.6 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline. They reportedly agreed in principle on a uniform transit fee for a project backed by the Asia Development Bank.

"A joint strategy is being evolved between India and Pakistan on this issue," Pakistani Energy Minister Asim Hussein was quoted by The Economic Times of India as saying.

Both sides are expected to discuss transit fees with the government in Afghanistan before signing off on a gas sale purchase agreement.

Islamabad had expressed concern about the security of the pipeline planned through war-torn Afghanistan. An official from New Delhi who spoke with the newspaper said there were additional cost concerns as well.

"India will invest in the project only if the Turkmen gas works out cheaper than the spot price of liquefied natural gas," the official said.

Pakistan is facing an energy crisis brought on by natural gas shortages. The country is pursuing a rival project planned from Iranian natural gas fields.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai met Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov in Ashgabat to discuss the project Thursday.

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