India to be invited to join TAP gas pipeline project

India to be invited to join TAP gas pipeline project


Islamabad: India will be formally invited to join as the fourth stakeholder in Turkmenistan-Afghanistan- Pakistan (TAP) gas pipeline project during talks likely to be held here in December.

India currently has the status of observer in the project but would now be formally asked to become a stakeholder, a senior petroleum ministry official told the Daily Times newspaper.

Minister-level talks were to be held here by the end of November but have been postponed. Secretary-levels talks may now be held in December.

India, which is under pressure from the US to stay away from the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, has shown “interest to participate" in the TAP project, he said.

Pakistan would import 3.2 billion cubic feet of gas from Turkmenistan, which would then be shared by Pakistan and India, the official said.

Turkmenistan claims to have gas reserves of 159 trillion cubic feet in its Dauletabad fields. Russia is the main importer of its gas.

The TAP project is being sponsored by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the pipeline is scheduled to be completed by 2011-12.

The proposed 1,680-km pipeline will run from Daulatabad gas fields to Afghanistan, alongside the highway from Herat to Kandahar, and then via Quetta to Multan.

The project cost has been pegged at $6-7 billion. Though the ADB is sponsoring the project, other investors would be invited to participate in it, the official said.

“Oil companies like Shell and others would also be invited to (join) the project," the official said.