Asian Development Bank expects tremendous regional benefits from gas pipeline planned from Turkmenistan, though Iran says it expects renewed interest in a rival project. File photo by Hamid Forotan/ISNA/UPI | License Photo
MANILA, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Regardless of Iran's natural gas ambitions for its eastern neighbors, the Asian Development Bank said it expects "tremendous" benefits from a rival project.
The Asian Development Bank last week congratulated key stakeholders in the planned 1,000-mile Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline after a steering company named state energy company Turkmengas as the pipeline consortium leader.
French energy company Total was mentioned as a possible consortium leader, though it balked after Turkmenistan refused to offer it a stake in the Galkynysh natural gas field near the border of Afghanistan. It's one of the largest gas fields in the world, with an estimated 925 trillion cubic feet of reserves, and is designated to feed the multilateral pipeline.
Turkmenistan is expected to send as much as 1.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas per year to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India for the next 30 years once the pipeline is completed. Iran, meanwhile, has said there may be renewed interest in its pipeline planned through Pakistan to India, once dubbed the Peace Pipeline, now that sanctions relief is on the horizon.
TAPI, described as part of the "new Silk Road," is favored by the United States and its allies over the similar, but long delayed, natural gas pipeline stretching east from Iran.
Ayun Sundari, a spokesperson from the ADB, said in response to email questions the bank itself has its own long history of support for the pipeline from Turkmenistan.
"We think a successful TAPI will bring tremendous developmental benefits to the region, irrespective of Iranian ambitions," she said.
Pakistan last year moved away from the Iranian gas pipeline project, saying it was unable to generate revenue needed for the development of the project because of sanctions. India's role in the project, proposed in the 1990s, has remained in doubt in recent years.
ADB took a lead role in the project in 2003. It was appointed as the transaction adviser for the pipeline in 2013.