Insights into Editorial: India moves to revive TAPI gas pipeline

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Insights into Editorial: India moves to revive TAPI gas pipeline


 

India moves to revive TAPI gas pipeline

tapi

 

 

Summary:

India will host the next steering committee meeting of the proposed 1,814 kilometre-long Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. The decision came during the recently held sixth joint Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) meeting on trade, economic, scientific and technological cooperation. After a slow start, the momentum on the pipeline’s construction seems to be making some headway.

 

Benefits of this project for India:

  • Energy is a growing need, and even if India is able to source energy from other countries like Iran and further afield, both the proximity and abundance of Turkmenistan’s reserves, that rank fourth in the world, will make it an attractive proposition.
  • It will bring India much needed energy at competitive pricing, and could easily supply about 15% of India’s projected needs by the time it is completed in the 2020s.
  • This project also gives India an opportunity to secure its interest in Central Asia. TAPI’s success will also ensure that India, Pakistan and Afghanistan find ways of cooperating on other issues as well.

 

Benefits for other countries:

  • Holding 4% of the gas reserves of the world, presently, Turkmenistan exports gas to only very few countries. But, with the TAPI pipeline, it will be able to diversify its exports to nations like India, Pakistan etc. Turkmenistan will also earn a lot of revenue by these exports.
  • The potential extension of the pipeline to the Gwadar Port in Pakistan will also enable Pakistan to export gas to several countries, thereby increasing its share of revenue.
  • Since the pipeline passes through Afghanistan, it will earn some revenue too in the name of transit fees.
  • This project could easily supply a quarter of Pakistan’s gas needs.
  • It will also reopen a historic route that reconnects South Asia to Central Asia, in the way it was before the British Empire sealed it off.

 

Challenges before the project:

Security issues: The TAPI project crosses Afghanistan and Pakistan, the former deeply unstable and of uncertain future, the latter plagued by terrorist incidents and infested with militant groups that may find a gas pipeline easy pickings. Ensuring the security of those involved in the construction of the pipeline and then extending that security along its length once operational is going to be a challenge for all the signatories.

Maintenance: After its completion, maintenance in the presence of terrorist elements in Afghanistan and in the restive areas of Pakistan will also be a challenge.

India- Pakistan tensions: Another critical issue is the fraught relations of Pakistan with India and Afghanistan.

 

Way ahead:

The project, given its numerous challenges, would require a great deal of political sagacity from all sides. It will also entail constant interaction between all stakeholders to resolve tactical-level impediments during the construction and operationalisation phase. At the moment none of this seems to be working. The project’s two largest stakeholders — India and Pakistan — have for the better part of the past year refrained from engaging in dialogue. It looks difficult for India to carry forward dialogue on projects of a commercial nature with Pakistan in the absence of any forward movement at the political level.

 

Conclusion:

Countries like India, Pakistan and Afghanistan are facing a severe energy crisis and badly need such a resource to give an impetus to their ailing economies. It is important for these countries to increase cooperation and take decisive action against the terrorists who are the main hurdle to any peace and development process. If utilized properly, the gas reserves can change the destiny of the people of these countries. It is a win-win situation for all stakeholder states and they must make up for lost time to explore this channel of prosperity.