Pipeline companies wary of Turkmen plans

Oct. 17, 2012 at 9:11 AM

NEW DELHI, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Pipeline companies are reluctant to get in line behind a Turkmenistan project without securing an interest in upstream oil and gas fields, an official said.

Officials in Turkmenistan agreed in May to sell natural gas through the planned 1,043-mile Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline. The region's Trend news service reported early this month that representatives from Chevron, Exxon Mobil, BP, BG Group and Malaysia's Petronas expressed interest in participating in the pipeline.

A source familiar with talks between New Delhi and Ashgabat, however, said major pipeline companies were reluctant to take part in the project without upstream concessions.

"International companies are unwilling to participate in the project unless given an interest in the upstream (oil and gas fields)," the source was quoted by the Times of India as saying. "The Turkmenistan leadership is so far unrelenting."

The pipeline has financial backing from the Asian Development Bank. Prospects are complicated, however, by security concerns in war-torn Afghanistan.

The U.S. Energy Department's Energy Information Administration reports that Turkmenistan has proven natural gas reserves of around 265 trillion cubic feet.

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