TAPI natural gas pipeline project: Boosting trade and remedying instability?

25-11-2016

Turkmenistan, which has the fourth largest natural gas reserves in the world, is opening up to new countries in a quest for more gas exports. Since Russia first reduced and later halted altogether its gas imports from Turkmenistan, China has become the main destination for Turkmen exports, and these are likely to increase further when the fourth line of the Central Asia-China Pipeline becomes operational. Turkmenistan is also spearheading the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project, a key step towards export diversification and also regional integration. After long years of inaction, the ground-breaking ceremony for the TAPI gas pipeline took place on 13 December 2015. TAPI is expected to be in operation by December 2019 and to cost around US$10 billion. The pipeline will run across Herat and Kandahar in war-torn Afghanistan, and Quetta and Multan in Pakistan, before reaching India. With the pipeline transiting restive areas that are not fully under government control, security risks threaten the viability of the project. However, according to its supporters, the project's potential benefits outweigh the concerns. The pipeline offers a win-win scenario for all participating states: Turkmenistan will diversify its exports – a particularly pressing issue given Gazprom's decision to halt gas imports from Turkmenistan and the country's increasing export dependence on China; Afghanistan will benefit from increased investment and employment, as well as from transit fees; and India and Pakistan will benefit from a new supply route enabling them to meet growing demand for energy. At regional level, TAPI will bring greater integration, both economic and political. The pipeline also fits in with the EU's strategic objective of stability and security for Central Asia.

Turkmenistan, which has the fourth largest natural gas reserves in the world, is opening up to new countries in a quest for more gas exports. Since Russia first reduced and later halted altogether its gas imports from Turkmenistan, China has become the main destination for Turkmen exports, and these are likely to increase further when the fourth line of the Central Asia-China Pipeline becomes operational. Turkmenistan is also spearheading the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project, a key step towards export diversification and also regional integration. After long years of inaction, the ground-breaking ceremony for the TAPI gas pipeline took place on 13 December 2015. TAPI is expected to be in operation by December 2019 and to cost around US$10 billion. The pipeline will run across Herat and Kandahar in war-torn Afghanistan, and Quetta and Multan in Pakistan, before reaching India. With the pipeline transiting restive areas that are not fully under government control, security risks threaten the viability of the project. However, according to its supporters, the project's potential benefits outweigh the concerns. The pipeline offers a win-win scenario for all participating states: Turkmenistan will diversify its exports – a particularly pressing issue given Gazprom's decision to halt gas imports from Turkmenistan and the country's increasing export dependence on China; Afghanistan will benefit from increased investment and employment, as well as from transit fees; and India and Pakistan will benefit from a new supply route enabling them to meet growing demand for energy. At regional level, TAPI will bring greater integration, both economic and political. The pipeline also fits in with the EU's strategic objective of stability and security for Central Asia.