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India close to TAPI gas agreement

Jan. 30, 2012 at 7:38 AM

NEW DELHI, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- New Delhi is moving close to an agreement on a transit fee paid to Pakistan for natural gas sent through a planned pipeline from Turkmenistan, a minister said.

Officials from Pakistan and India have met to discuss terms of the planned Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline. Afghanistan would take on around 490 million cubic feet of natural gas per day while India and Pakistan would split the remaining 2.6 billion cubic feet.

Indian Oil Minister S. Jaipal Reddy said his country aims to agree on a transit fee for Pakistan "at the earliest," Bloomberg News reports. Reddy said a transit fee agreement was needed before any formal deal is signed with Turkmenistan.

Washington backs TAPI, which has the support of the Asia Development Bank, over a rival project planned from Iran. Tehran maintains its part of that pipeline is completed, though Western sanctions make it difficult for Iran to find new energy customers.

Islamabad, meanwhile, said it fears the ongoing war in Afghanistan would undermine progress on TAPI.

The 1,057-mile natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan could go enter into service by 2016.

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