A groundbreaking ceremony to launch the start of work on the Afghan section of the key Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project was held in the western Herat province amid tight security on Friday. The multi-million dollar gas pipeline will link energy-rich Turkmenistan to the three countries.
Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, Turkmenistan President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Indian Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar attended the ceremony at Turkmenistan’s border with Afghanistan.
The TAPI project, according to officials, would transport 33 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Galkynysh gas reserve of Turkmenistan annually along an 1,800 km route to Fazilka near the border with Pakistan in northern India.
Ghani described the project as a “corridor of development” and stressed on regional cooperation. He said the Afghanistan government’s policy is a policy of “connectivity” and South Asia is being connected with Central Asia through Afghanistan, TOLO News reported.
The Afghan President also noted that the TAPI project demonstrated that Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, India, and other nations look at economic development as the key topic of discussion to take the region towards peace and prosperity.
Akbar said India was “committed to supporting the project” while Abbasi said his country “was committed to long-term economic goals which guarantee stability in the region”.
The Turkmenistan President, meanwhile, stressed on the need for increasing his country’s cooperation with Afghanistan.
He said the implementation of the TAPI project was the “biggest achievement for the countries involved”.
The quartet aims to complete the pipeline and begin pumping natural gas from Turkmenistan’s giant Galkynysh gas fields by the beginning of 2020, officials said.
Afghanistan would earn $500 million as royalty each year from the TAPI project, according to Afghan officials.