India ceremonially broke pipeline breaks ground on Afghan section

Vastavam web: Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India ceremonially broke ground on the Afghan section of an ambitious, multi-billion dollar gas pipeline expected to help ease energy deficits in South Asia.Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Turkmen counterpart Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov joined Pakistani premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and India’s External Affairs Minister Shri M J Akbar for the ceremony at gas-rich Turkmenistan’s border with Afghanistan.Speaking at the ceremony, Ghani said the pipeline would “unite (the) countries” in quotes translated into Russian for reporters at the ceremony.

“There were pessimistic voices, but now we are witnessing the construction of the TAPI gas pipeline,” said Ghani, using the acronym for the conduit which takes its name from the four countries.The quartet aims to complete the 1,840-kilometre (1,143-mile) pipeline and begin pumping natural gas from Turkmenistan’s giant Galkynysh gas field by the beginning of 2020.Turkmen strongman Berdymukhamedov, whose country currently depends heavily on China as a market for its natural gas exports, called diversification of gas deliveries an “important part of the politics” of the isolated Central Asian country.

And he said work on the Turkmen section of the pipeline was still ongoing.India’s commitment to the pipeline has previously been questioned over its relationship with Pakistan and easy-access to liquified natural gas markets seen as potential stumbling blocks.The overall funding picture for the mammoth gas pipeline remains unclear, with commercial energy giants such as France’s Total failing to follow up on reported interest in the project.