gas-pipeline-TAPI-543_550x300By: Mirwais Jalalzai

Several south Asian countries are making remarkable efforts to overcome their energy shortage, which they are currently facing or which they expect to face in the next years.

For the past several years, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India had been suffering from a dire energy crisis because these countries did not increase its energy capacity.

This is not only affecting different sectors of the economy, but also diverse segments of society as well as the relation between these countries.

Tapi’s route may serve as a stabilizing corridor, linking neighbors together in economic growth and prosperity. The road ahead is long for this project, but the benefits could be tremendous and are certainly worthy of the diligence demonstrated by the four countries so far.

By 2040 Afghanistan population will grow thrice and the need for energy will also significantly increase in the country.

In  2050, our neighbor Pakistan’s electricity requirements will grow three-fold. If sufficient resources are not allocated and utilized effectively and efficiently, the energy crisis will further aggravate.

The Modi’s government is also working to increase the capacity of it’s energy sector and preparing proper and on time power to the people which  was one of Modi’s promises to the Indian nation during his electoral campaigns in 2014.

Therefore, it is required to analyze the accessible choices to import energy from the neighboring countries in order to meet the current and future energy needs of the 3 south Asian countries.

TAPI is the pipeline that could keep the peace in Afghanistan, according to the afghan government.

In South Asian region, Pakistan and India are the two major energy consumers and they are getting increasingly dependent on imported oil and natural gas. Liquefied natural gas is an expensive source as compared to the mechanism of gas pipelines, which costs in the range of $16 to $18 per million British thermal units .The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline is a major project being pursued, which would be the beginning of a new era of cooperation and interconnectedness at the regional level.

The 1,800-km-long pipeline is to begin from Turkmenistan’s Dawlatabad area’s Galkynysh field. It holds estimated gas reserves of 16 trillion cubic feet. From the field, the pipeline will run to Farah, Herat, Kandahar and Helmand provinces of Afghanistan, before entering Pakistan. It will reach Multan via Quetta in Pakistan, before ending in Fazilka India. It will have the capacity to transfer 90 million standard cubic metres gas a day for a 30-year period and would be operational in 2018.

However, unfortunately, the prevailing geopolitical scenario in the region has put a question mark on the commencement and completion of TAPI.

As part of this unstable political relation between Pak, India and Afghanistan is the main reason of delay in completion of this vital project.

From the afghan prospective TAPI gas pipe-line project needs to be materialized at a faster pace in order to meet the energy requirements and to cope with the energy crisis of Pak, Afghanistan and India.

The US, Turkmenistan and the world community share a common interest in a stable and secure Afghanistan. Initiatives like this contribute to Afghanistan’s development.

Pakistan, through the TAPI project, would receive 1.365 billion cubic feet of gas per day (bcfd), India would get 1.365 bcfd and Afghanistan will receive 0.5 bcfd through Turkmenistan.

Afghanistan will annually receive $450 million under this agreement. It is a vital project for the country as it would generate employment for thousands of Afghan youth.

For the purpose of safeguarding the pipeline, around 6,000 Afghan Security Forces will be deployed.

The US and its allies want Pakistan to step down from the IP and pursue TAPI because the main financial control over Turkmenistan gas reserves lies with giant western companies. The US has been opposed to the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline because of Iran’s nuclear programme, which is at the heart of international controversy.

Against this backdrop, TAPI has got intense support from the US for the recent operational agreement between the four countries. It is an ideal scheme between these countries to overcome their respective energy shortages. The US interest was very deep in reaching the agreement because of the award of the multi-billion-dollar project to two US firms .

China also expressed interest in becoming part of the TAPI pipeline project. The extension of the pipeline to China through Gwadar will give a boost to economic activities in Balochistan. The pipeline will connect a wider region if Bangladesh formally joins it.

While TAPI seems extremely attractive in theory, there are some serious challenges that have to be overcome by the countries involved. Even if there is international support and financing for the project, security is difficult to guarantee. TAPI has economic and geopolitical significance, subject to improved security situation in Afghanistan and law and order situation in Balochistan.

The prospects for the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline project are bleak due to several international compulsions, particularly strong US objections. Therefore, the stakeholders of TAPI should make a combined endeavour for the construction of this pipeline.

This project will bring regional stability that will ultimately lead to peace and prosperity. TAPI has the potential to create a joint economic ring in the region and, in the long-term, the economic profits will guarantee regional security.

TAPI provides plausible economic opportunities to, Afghanistan India and Pakistan. It may transform India-Pakistan and Pakistan-Afghanistan relations by enhancing interdependence in the energy sector and the economic field. Due to more economic opportunities, new markets will be opened for landlocked Turkmenistan as it can extend its exports to the east where there is a remarkable demand for energy.

As in 1997, TAPI’s construction will require the assent of the Taliban, which is currently fighting in Herat, Helmand and Kandahar along the proposed TAPI route.

As for TAPI’s benefits for the Afghan population, Afghanistan remains one of the world’s poorest and least developed countries, where two-thirds of the population lives on less than $2 a day. In a country notorious for corruption, there is little doubt where much of the transit fees will wind up.


  • Ahmad Shah Ghani Zada is the former Senior Editor of Khaama Press Agency who managed and overlooked the English edition. He is occasionally contributing stories to the agency.