Turkmenistan Current Affairs
Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India have ceremonially broke ground on Afghanistan section of ambitious, multi-billion dollar TAPI gas pipeline. The ceremony was attended by Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and his Turkmenistan counterpart Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and India’s Minister of state for external affairs Shri M. J. Akbar.
TAPI gas pipeline
TAPI gas pipeline project is proposed trans-country natural gas pipeline from Caspian Sea, Turkmenistan to India through Afghanistan and Pakistan. The abbreviation TAPI itself indicate its member countries- Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The pipe line connects central Asia with south Asia covering 1,840 km.
The pipeline begins from Turkmenistan’s Galkynysh field (formally known as South Yoiotan Osman) that has gas reserves are 16 trillion cubic feet. The estimated construction cost of the project is 10 billion US dollars and is being funded by Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The pipeline has capacity to carry 90 million standard cubic metres a day (mmscmd). Both India and Pakistan will get supply of about 38 mmscmd whereas Afghanistan will get 14 mmscmd supply of natural gas. The pipeline will begin pumping natural gas from Turkmenistan’s giant Galkynysh gas field by the beginning of 2020 and supply life is expected to last for period of 30 years.
The pipeline runs through Galkynysh field (Turkmenistan), Afghanistan’s Herat and Kandahar province, Pakistan’s Multan via Quetta and ends at Fazilka in Punjab (India). For its security, an inter-government joint security task force (JSTF) has been recommended to serve as nucleus of safety provided by security consultants.
The TAPI Project is considered as an important initiative of these four countries to connect energy rich Central Asia with energy starved South Asia. It marks a new dawn of economic engagement through regional connectivity by economically integrating region stretching from Bay of Bengal to Caspian Sea.
From India’s perspective, TAPI Project will provide an alternative supply source of gas with dependable reserves leading to enhanced energy security. It will further diversify the fuel basket to the benefit of Indian economy as it would be used mainly in power, fertilizer and city gas sectors.
India has joined Ashgabat Agreement which envisages facilitation of transit and transportation of goods between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf to significantly boost up trade and investment. It was informed by Turkmenistan, as depository state of the Agreement that all its four founding members have consented to accession of India.
Ashgabat Agreement aims at establishment of International Transport and Transit Corridor between the Iran, Oman, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. It was signed in April 2011 and is named after capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat. It establishes international transport and transit corridor between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf countries. Pakistan is also its member since October 2016.
Significance of accession to Agreement
- It will enable India to utilise this existing transport and transit corridor to facilitate trade and commercial interaction and ties with Central Asia and Eurasian region.
- It will synchronise India’s efforts to implement the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) for enhanced connectivity.
- It will provide India an opportunity for reorientation of the freight traffic from the traditional sea route to land transcontinental routes.
India had deposited the Instrument of Accession with Turkmenistan in April 2016. Prior to it, the Union Cabinet had given its approval for India to accede to Ashgabat Agreement in March 2016.