Ground breaking likely to be held by year-end

Apr 25 - May 08, 2005

Petroleum Minister, Amanullah Khan Jadoon, has confirmed that the cross border gas pipeline project from Turkmenistan-Afghan-Pakistan (TAP) will be launched by the end of this year.

The Petroleum Minister accompanied by the visiting delegates from Turkmenistan and Afghanistan was spelling out the deliberations in two-day meeting of the Steering Committee on the gas pipeline project. Jadoon said that the Steering Committee comprised of the representatives from the three partner countries besides representatives of the Asian Development Bank, has found the project commercially viable after due diligence, .

He said the meeting made substantial progress on TAP project and reached conclusion that all parties should play their role in turning it into reality within the stipulated period. He said that India's inclusion in TAP would be welcomed as it could add to its commercial value. However, he said that India's participation was not specifically decided to keep during the meeting. Pakistan was fully conscious of its energy needs to keep up its current growth and, for the same reason, it was discussing various options open to import gas. He referred to other two options Iran and Qatar gas. Turkmenistan minister presented preliminary report on Daulatabad gas filed reserves. The report indicated that Daulatabad field has sufficient gas reserves to ensure supply to TAP gas pipeline for 30 years. He said that a detailed report on Daulatabad gas reserves would be presented to the parties in a month.

Afghan minister sounded very confident regarding security measures taken by his government to ensure complete safety to the pipeline. He claimed that Afghan government was fully aware of its responsibilities and would ensure foolproof security system for the pipeline. According to him, the Afghan government would take necessary measures, including establishment of a special national force, to protect the pipeline. He said that security situation in Afghanistan was now much better than in the past. He referred to launching of bus service between Kabul and Ashkabad and Kabul and Peshawar in support of his arguments that Afghanistan today enjoys a stable law and order as good as any other country of the region. The Karzai government would not hesitate in using international forces stationed in Afghanistan for the Security of TAP project, he added.

Earlier, talking to the tripartite delegation on TAP, President General Pervez Musharraf expressed Pakistan's support for Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan gas pipeline project and said the country is open to all options with regard to its finalization. We will import gas to fulfill energy requirements for our fast-growing economy in both agricultural and industrial sectors, he said, adding that the project will benefit all three countries. The delegation briefed the President about the ADB-assisted feasibility of the pipeline project.

The President of Pakistan while talking about the progress in deliberations on the project, said the three countries had productive discussions on the project. Asian Development Bank's Mr. Dan Millison was also present during the occasion.

Talking to the delegation, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz called for accelerating work on Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) gas pipeline project. He said, the project would help promote economic and political coordination in the region. He said that TAP pipeline will be a tremendous initiative to promote economic, diplomatic and political coordination between these countries. It will create linkages, interdependence and promote people to people contact which would result in long lasting ties and strengthen regional cooperation. He said adding that the trilateral meeting is significant because Pakistan's economic growth needs increased energy sources and it is looking for various options including overland gas supply from Iran and Turkmenistan, undersea gas from Qatar and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). Pakistan, the Prime Minister said was very keen to diversify its energy sources to ensure fuel for future growth which will benefit both industrial as well as individual consumers.

When asked whether the US pressure was forcing Pakistan to go for TAP or other options to import gas, Jadoon said "Pakistan looks for its own national interest. However, the adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Salman Shah who is currently in the US observed at a briefing held at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington that Pakistan was not likely to defy US Law on gas pipeline from Iran.

Pakistan would study the US Law that triggers sanctions against any company that invest in or collaborate with Iranian oil or energy projects.

In another reports, the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, however, had opposed the gas pipeline project from Iran to Pakistan and India during her recent visit to South Asian countries including Pakistan and India.