PIPELINES IN TURKMENISTAN

PIPELINES IN TURKMENISTAN

Turkmenistan was dependant on Russian pipeline to export its gas to markets until 2009 when the first pipeline to China opened up. Russia was the sole transit route for Turkmenistan's vast gas resources until that time. Gazprom — Russia’s natural gas and pipeline monopoly —would only allow gas to be shipped on its pipelines in return for concessions and large chunk of the profits. The capacity of these pipeline was barely enough to meet Russia's needs let alone, Russia’s plus Turkmenistan’s. Russia refused to allow its pipelines to be used to transport Turkmen gas to hard-currency-paying countries in Europe and elsewhere because Gazprom didn’t want the competition.

Turkmenistan has a small domestic crude oil pipeline network linking onshore oil fields with the Turkmenbashi refinery and Caspian ports. Turkmenistan has virtually no international oil pipeline infrastructure except a pipeline between the Seidi refinery in northeastern Turkmenistan and the Shymkent refinery in Kazakhstan via Uzbekistan. [Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) <=>]

Turkmenistan exported 1.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas via a pipeline in 2014. Over half of exports went to China, with Russia and Iran also importing volumes of Turkmenistan gas. Turkmenistan has signed several natural gas contracts with China, most recently in September 2013, and is slated to supply 2.3 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas to China by 2020 through a network of parallel gas pipelines running through Central Asia.

In 2006 Turkmenistan had 6,441 kilometers of natural gas pipelines and 1,361 kilometers of oil pipelines. The critical export of natural gas has depended on outmoded Soviet- era pipelines. Of the two main Soviet-era lines, the Shatlik-Khiva line running south-north from near Saragt to Khiva connects with a pipeline from the Uzbekistan gas field near Bukhoro. Intersecting this line is the Mary-Ashgabat line running east-west from near Mary to Ashgabat. The other main line is the Central Asia-Center line running north from Okarem to Nebitdag, northwest to the Garabogaz Gulf on the Caspian Sea, and connecting with the main line to Europe through Ukraine. [Source: Library of Congress, March 1996 *]

Turkmenistan-Iran Pipelines

A $190-million, 200-kilometer (125 mile) pipeline between Turkmenistan and northeast Iran was launched in 1997. Iran has huge oil and natural gas reserves but none of them in northeast region, where many people live. The pipeline can deliver the relatively modest amount of 8 billion cubic meters a year. The pipeline is regarded as the first link of much longer pipeline that will help Turkmenistan get its natural gas out to the rest of the world. The pipeline runs between the Iranian town of Kurd Kui and the world’s largest untapped gas reserves, in Korpedshe, Turkmenistan. The pipline freed Turkmenistan from Russian pipeline domination.

Bruce Pannier of Radio Free Europe wrote: “It was also the first pipeline that gave Turkmenistan an export route to somewhere outside the former Soviet Union. Iran funded construction of the pipeline to import some 8 billion cubic meters of gas a year, mainly to areas of northern Iran that were not well connected to the gas fields of the south. [Source: Bruce Pannier, Radio Free Europe, August 14, 2014 *+*]

In early 2010 a new, second pipeline bringing Turkmen gas to Iran was launched. Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has also raised the possibility of shipping Turkmen gas through Iran to Azerbaijan were it be connected to pipelines that extend through Turkey to Europe.

China-Turkmenistan Pipelines

In April 2006, China and Turkmenistan signed a deal in which Turkmenistan would sell natural gas to China and China would help Turkmenistan build a pipeline to deliver it. As of 2015, Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline system consisted of three branches with a total capacity of 55 billion cubic meters a year to transfer Turkmen as well as gas from other Central Asian states. The Central Asia-China pipeline opened in late 2009, a second line was added in 2010 and a third began construction in 2012. The construction of a new gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to China with the capacity of 30 billion cubic meters a year of gas started in 2016. next year. When it is completed it will raise Turkmenistan’s export capacity level to China to 85 billion cubic metres a year. China National Petroleum Company provided much of the money to build the pipeline. Much of the rest was provided by Chinese loans to Turkmenistan. [Source: Catherine Putz, The Diplomat, July 28, 2015 *|*]

According to Natural Gas Europe, “The Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline starts at the Turkmen-Uzbek border city Gedaim and runs through central Uzbekistan and southern Kazakhstan before reaching Horgos in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous region. The Pipeline has three lines in parallel, each running for 1,830 kilometers. Construction of Line A/B commenced in July 2008. With a pipe diameter of 1,067mm, Line A became operational in December 2009, and Line B became operational in October, 2010. A delivery capacity of 30 billion cubic meters per annum was reached by the end of 2011. [Source: Natural Gas Europe, September 28, 2015 /=\]

“Construction of Line C started in September 2012. With a designed capacity of 25 billion cubic meters per annum, Line C’s pipe diameter is 1,219mm, 152mm larger than Line A/B. The overall welding work of the pipeline was completed at the end of 2013. On May 31, 2014, at the initial station of the Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline in Uzbekistan, the gas valve was turned on to boost natural gas from Turkmenistan to Line C, indicating the new transnational pipeline jointly built by CNPC and its Central Asian counterparts has become operational. Upon completion of all supporting facilities of Line C by the end of 2015, the overall delivery capacity of the Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline will hit 55 billion cubic meters per annum. /=\

“In September 2013, China signed inter-governmental agreements with Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan respectively on Line D project as well to increase gas delivery capacity from Central Asia to 85 billion cubic meters a year. Kyrgyzstan Prime Minister Temir Sariyev announced last week that construction of Kyrgyzstan's section of Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline will start in 2016 and will complete in three years. Kyrgyzstan is expected to earn $80 million annually from the transit of Turkmen gas to China.” /=\

Proposed Pipelines from Turkmenistan

The government has pursued international projects to build gas pipelines through Iran to Turkey, through Afghanistan to Pakistan, and through Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China to Japan. There has been some discussion of building an oil pipeline from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan across Iran to the Persian Gulf. This would greatly facilitate the export of oil to Asia. The United States has opposed this plan because of Iran’s links to terrorism and its nuclear program. Plans have been hatched to build a pipeline under the Caspian Sea that would eventually end up in Turkey. There has also been some discussion about building a $12 billion 7,880-kilometer gas pipeline from the gas field of Turkmenistan to South Korea and Japan via western China.

Also on the drawing boards was a 2,485-mile, $7 billion pipeline across Iran to Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. The United States opposed this plan and thwarted attempt to raise money to build it.

Catherine Putz wrote in The Diplomat, “Turkmenistan’s gas prospects continue to diversify, even if the infrastructure lags behind the politics. The country has one of the world’s largest gas reserves–there is plenty to go around if the right pipelines are built. With the opening of Iran increasingly possible (following a deal between the P5+1 and Iran on the latter’s nuclear program), and Asia’s growing demand for energy resources showing little sign of abating–Turkmenistan no longer needs the Russian market in the way it did a decade ago. Beyond China’s already dominant interest in Turkmen gas, Azerbaijan and Georgia have been courting Turkmenistan for partnerships to pipe gas under the Caspian and, they hope, on to Europe. Meanwhile, India has several pipeline dreams as well.” [Source: Catherine Putz, The Diplomat, July 28, 2015]

Abdujalil Abdurasulov of BBC News wrote: “At the moment the Turkmen government is trying to diversify its energy supply routes to decrease its dependency on China, and is pushing forward with two main projects. One of them is the US-backed TAPI pipeline, which will deliver Turkmen gas to Pakistan and India via Afghanistan. Turkmenistan has recently announced that construction will start next year. The other project is a more controversial one: the Trans-Caspian pipeline to deliver Turkmen gas to Europe. Until recently this had been considered unrealistic. The main reason is Russia's position. Moscow is against construction of pipelines in the Caspian Sea until the sea's status is resolved - the Caspian is divided among five littoral states: Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Azerbaijan. [Source: Abdujalil Abdurasulov BBC News, November 20, 2014]

However, European Union (EU) officials say that they have made some serious advances in implementing the Trans-Caspian pipeline, and this year the EU finalised an environmental study of the project. It has also designed a Caspian development co-operation concept to establish a body "that will be intermediary between TurkmenGaz and European companies....interested in purchasing Turkmen gas," says Denis Daniilidis, the EU's representative in Turkmenistan. "We are close to the point where we will see the light at the [end] of the tunnel," he says.

After a Japanese delegation held talks in Ashgabat in 1992, the Mitsubishi corporation developed plans to build a 6,700-kilometer gas pipeline through Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, and China to the Yellow Sea coast opposite Japan, where a natural gas liquefaction plant will be built to convert the gas prior to shipment. The plan calls for constructing a pipeline with a capacity of 30 billion cubic meters annually at a cost of US$12 billion. Turkmenistan, Kazakstan, and Uzbekistan also have petitioned the Russian Federation to help them build a new 725-kilometer gas pipeline through Russia and Ukraine for exporting natural gas to Ukraine and Europe. Not much came of the plan however. [Source: Library of Congress, March 1996 *]

Trans-Caspian Pipeline

Despite Russia's opposition and United States pressure not to do so, in August 1994, President Niyazov signed an agreement with Iran to begin the Turkmenistan-Iran-Turkey-Europe — of Trans-Caspian — gas pipeline. The pipeline will extend 4,000 kilometers through Iran, Turkey, and Bulgaria, with an initial capacity of 15 billion cubic meters annually, later to be expanded to 28 billion cubic meters. The project will cost US$8 billion, of which Iran will finance US$3.5 billion, and construction will begin in 1998.[Source: Library of Congress, March 1996 *]

The Trans-Caspian pipeline is also known as the Nabucco pipeline project. Bruce Pannier of Radio Free Europe wrote: “Nabucco was recently shelved after more than a decade of shareholders trying to get potential gas suppliers to sign contracts for supplies, which gas suppliers were hesitant to do since it was unclear how soon, or even if, Nabucco would be built. [Source: Bruce Pannier, Radio Free Europe, August 14, 2014 *+*]

“Nabucco was originally envisioned to bring gas from Caspian Basin countries -- Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, possibly Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan -- and also possibly from Iraq to Europe by way of a 3,300-kilometer pipeline. Nabucco was all but scrapped after Azerbaijan opted last year to use the Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline to feed into the Trans-Adriatic pipeline across Southern Europe. *+*

Oil Pipelines from the Caspian Sea

The deposit of oil and gas in the Caspian Sea are only as good as transportation and delivery system that can carry them out. The pipelines that existed after the collapse of the Soviet Union were not capable of carrying all the oil that the Caspian Sea has, plus the former Soviet republics on the Caspian Sea don't want rely on Russian pipelines. One analyst called pipelines the “Great Game” of the oil business.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union the Caspian Sea countries were dependant on Russia's pipelines to move the oil. This gave Russia a lot of power over the other Caspian Sea countries. Building pipelines that bypass the Russian system has been key for countries like Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan to break free from of Russia’s grip and establish their independence.

Maps of the Caspian Sea are often crisscrossed with lines and doted lines for existing and prosed pipelines. Many of the existing Soviet-era pipelines—plus some that date back Tsarist times— are too old, too decrepit and have to little capacity to be of much use. Plans build new pipelines have to take into consideration a number of challenges: money, corruption, political turmoil, security and terrorism. Building a pipeline requires hundreds of millions or billions of dollars. To reach Europe from the Caspian Sea requires passing through Chechnya, Azerbaijan, Ossetia, Georgia, Armenia or southern Russia— all places that have been racked by lawlessness and political violence since the break up of the Soviet Union.

Rosmarier Forsythe, an American diplomat an expert on international energy issues, wrote: “All the options are complicated, and none is trouble free because they all either pass through politically unstable areas, involve high costs because of distance and terrain or are politically risky because they offend the sensibilities of one or another of the regional owners.”

Proposed pipeline routes go in every direction from the Caspian Sea: southward through Iran to the Persian Gulf: westward through Turkey or the Caucasus rates to the Black Sea or Mediterranean Sea; Northward to other Russian pipelines; and even eastward through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to China.

Lots of pipelines on the drawing boards. Kazakhstan wants to build a pipeline that would run under the Caspian Sea from Aktau, Kazakhstan to Baku, Azerbaijan, which will connect to the BTC pipelines to the Black Sea and Turkey. There is also discussion of building an oil pipeline from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan across Iran to the Persian Gulf. This would greatly facilitate the export of oil to Asia. The United States opposes this plan because of Iran’s links to terrorism. Also raised, has been the idea of building a pipeline across Afghanistan and Pakistan to the port of Karachi. Another is through Iran, Pakistan to India.

Turkmenistan Section of the Trans-Caspian Pipeline

The 300-kilometer Turkmenistan section of the Trans-Caspian Pipeline (TCP) would link Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, the Caspian region’s gateway to Turkey and, farther, to Europe. In May 2015, Maros Sefcovic, vice president of the European Commission in charge of energy union, met with Turkmen and Azerbaijani officials and said after the meeting that they had a "mutual understanding” and added that “Europe expects supplies of Turkmen gas to begin in 2019.” [Source: Bruce Pannier, Radio Free Europe, May 5, 2015 \=\]

Bruce Pannier of Radio Free Europe wrote: “The European Union is anxious to decrease imports of gas from Russia. Currently, Russia sends somewhere between 140 to 150 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas annually to the EU, about 30 percent of the EU’s total gas imports. The situation in Ukraine, where Russia has illegally annexed the Crimean Peninsula and is accused of supporting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, has given the EU motivation it never had before to curtail gas supplies from Russia. \=\

“Part of the EU plan to replace Russian gas is to open the Southern Gas Corridor linking the Caspian Basin countries, primarily Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, to Europe by pipelines through Turkey. Construction of the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), with an eventual capacity of some 60 bcm, started in Turkey in March, 2015. So Russian state-controlled company Gazprom stands to lose roughly one-third of its current share of the EU gas market if TANAP is completed and filled (Turkey will receive six to 10 bcm). In recent years Gazprom’s revenue has filled some 25 percent of the Kremlin’s coffers. Georgia would also receive a big economic boost from transit fees for Azerbaijani and Turkmen gas transiting its territory -- something that also won't sit well with Moscow. \=\

“Russia has opposed the TCP project since it was first articulated. Russia has always argued that the status of the Caspian Sea is not yet clear. Several summits and dozens of lower-level meetings between officials from the five littoral states have still not produced a consensus on whether the Caspian is a sea, in which case all five countries have their own sectors to develop as they wish, or a lake, in which case the Caspian should be developed mutually and the profits split equally among the five. Russia has also expressed concerns about the possible environmental consequences of a pipeline running across the Caspian Sea bottom. Iran has always supported Russia’s position on the TCP and probably will hold to that, at least until the EU comes knocking on Tehran’s door to ask about gas supplies. \=\

“Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and the EU have been working on their counterarguments for a half-decade. It starts with Baku and Ashgabat noting the pipeline only passes through their territorial sectors and accordingly does not require the consent of the other littoral states. They will point out every Caspian state has already been developing gas and oil fields in what would nominally be their national sectors of the sea, without any decision on the Caspian’s status. \=\

“Technically, construction of the TCP is no more difficult -- and according to some much easier -- than building the Blue Stream pipeline across the bottom of the Black Sea. Russia built Blue Stream and uses it to supply Turkey with gas, and Moscow is currently pitching construction of another, bigger pipeline -- Turkish Stream -- to boost supplies to Turkey. There is also Russia’s Nord Stream that supplies gas to Northern Europe, mainly Germany, via two pipelines running along the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and the EU point to these pipelines as proof TCP could work as safely as the Russian pipelines laid across the bottoms of the Baltic and Black seas.\=\

“Sefcovic addressed the ecological concerns after his meeting in Ashgabat, saying the EU had financed an ecological study of the project with the World Bank. “These are technologies which are reliable from the point of view of ecology,” he said. Russia is almost certain to file a legal challenge to the construction of the TCP. That alone could hold up the project for years.” \=\

Proposed Pipeline Through Afghanistan

The Asian Development Bank granted funding for a new gas pipeline from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan, linking Turkmenistan’s Caspian Sea gas deposits with ports in Pakistan and reducing dependence on Russian lines. The onset of construction, which would take seven years, was delayed in 2006 by hostilities in the southern Afghanistan portion of the proposed route. [Source: Library of Congress, February 2007 **]

In the early 2000s, leaders from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan worked out an agreement on building the $3.2 billion 1,460-kilometer (910-mile) pipeline — known as the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline or Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline — that would carry natural gas across war-torn Afghanistan from Turkmenistan to Pakistan, where it could reach Indian Ocean ports and gain access to lucrative markets in India and elsewhere in Asia.

The U.S. oil company Unocal was one of the first to propose the pipeline across Afghanistan. It began work on it 1997 but abandoned the project after cruise missile were fired at Afghanistan in the 1998 attempt to kill Osama bin Laden after the attack on U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Plans to build a pipeline through Afghanistan have been repeatedly thwarted and delayed by political turmoil there. If completed the pipeline would would be one of the first major investment projects on Afghanistan.

The Trans-Afghanistan pipeline project would tap natural gas from wells in Turkmenistan’s Dauketabad-Donmez field and could carry 20 billion cubic meters of gas a year. It would pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the Afghanistan economy and create an estimated 12,000 jobs. Pakistan would get more than $300 million in transit fees annually and gain access to the gas.

Turkmenistan Pushes Ahead on the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline

The deal reached between Iran, the United States and Europe on Iran’s nuclear program was followed by an announcement that construction on the long-stalled Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline would commence in December 2015. The deal between Iran and United Nations Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — removed international economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for Tehran freezing most of Iran’s nuclear program. Facing the impending prospect of competition from Iran’s unfettered participation in global natural gas markets, Turkmenistan has adopted a new policy orientation to expedite TAPI’s construction.

Micha'el Tanchum wrote in The Diplomat, “The TAPI pipeline is slated to transport 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas from Turkmenistan’s massive Galkynysh field to neighboring South Asia, bringing some stability to energy-starved Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as helping to meet the Indian economy’s own rising demand. TAPI will provide Afghanistan with 14 million standard cubic meters a day (mmscmd) of natural gas, while India and Pakistan will each receive 38 mmscmd. However, the $10 billion “Peace Pipeline” designed to promote regional cooperation will have to traverse a dangerous route before reaching India, passing through Afghanistan’s Kandahar province and the neighboring Quetta region of Pakistan, traditionally the heartland of Taliban militancy. [Source: Micha'el Tanchum, The Diplomat, September 23, 2015 ==]

“Progress on TAPI’s construction became bogged down precisely because of the risk involved in the route. The Asian Development Bank (ADB), which assumed the role of transaction advisor to facilitate the construction of the pipeline, estimates that the delays have raised the cost of the project by $2.5 billion to its current $10 billion price tag. In October 2014, the ADB commissioned a feasibility study for the TAPI pipeline project as part of its effort to establish a consortium that would construct the pipeline by 2018. At the November 2014 TAPI Steering Committee meeting held in Turkmenistan’s capital Ashgabat, representatives from the four nations and the ADB agreed to an accelerated timetable for completion of the pipeline, designed to make TAPI operational three years after the start of construction. ==

“On September 14, Chin Choon Fong, an ABD senior advisor for Central Asia, announced that the feasibility study for TAPI had been completed. Speaking to the press, Fong said, “Pipeline construction will begin after developmental activities have been completed, including detailed design and route survey and financing arrangements.” Given that Turkmen media reported ten days earlier that experts from state-controlled Türkmengaz had started survey and engineering work on the route, Fong’s cautious remarks appeared to confirm several positive statements about the pipeline’s construction coming from TAPI consortium member Pakistan. ==

“The major stumbling block for TAPI, the selection of a consortium leader willing to assume the risk for the pipeline’s construction, seems to have been overcome last month with Turkmenistan’s decisions to assume the role. According to the agreement reached between the four principals, Turkmenistan will assume a 51 percent stake in the project and will become the lead operator. Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India will each hold a minimum 5 percent share. This arrangement leaves up to a 34 percent stake for an international energy major to join the project. As analyzed previously in the The Diplomat, Ashgabat seemed to signal that it is willing to offer a sufficient profit share in the gas transported from Galkynysh to warrant an international company’s assumption of the risk of the pipeline construction. While Turkmenistan technically will retain legal ownership of the land, it would agree to some form of a modified Technical Services Contract that would functionally provide sufficiently similar remuneration to a production sharing agreement.” ==

“The day after Fong’s announcement, Reuters reported the comments of a Turkmen official speaking on condition of anonymity that Türkmengaz will start construction of the Turkmen segment of the pipeline in early December and then will be joined by international energy companies at a later stage. The official’s implication that Turkmenistan has already succeed in obtaining the participation of foreign firms in TAPI may be alluding to Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov’s August 2015 statement that “world-renowned companies from Japan and South Korea had expressed their willingness to implement the TAPI project.” Made during a working visit in Ankara with Turkey’s political and business leaders, Berdimuhamedov also invited Turkey to participate in TAPI’s construction. ==

“With the recent expediting of the Iran-Pakistan Pipeline and Iran’s overture to extend it to India, Turkmenistan is rightly concerned that its objective to develop export markets for its natural gas in South Asia could be undermined by Iran. Traditionally unwilling to do little more than deliver gas to its border, it seems that Ashgabat has now found sufficient motivation from Iranian competition to change course. Turkmenistan’s new willingness to become involved in external pipeline projects may enable the construction of the TAPI pipeline to finally begin before year’s end.

Obstacles and Considerations on the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline

Abdujalil Abdurasulov of the BBC wrote: “The proposed 1,735km-long (1,078-mile) pipeline will carry 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas a year from Galkynysh, making it one of the world's biggest onshore gas fields. Pakistan and India will each get 42 percent of that volume - the rest will be purchased by Afghanistan. The US strongly supports the pipeline plan, calling it "a transformative project for the entire region". If implemented, it will help to attract much-needed investment to Afghanistan, increasing budget revenues through transit fees and contribute to the country's overall development. [Source: Abdujalil Abdurasulov, BBC News, July 16, 2015 \+/]

“The project is also crucial for India and Pakistan who are both facing severe energy shortages. By 2020-21, demand for gas in India is expected to double and according to the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, demand for gas in Pakistan over roughly the same timeframe will be three times higher than supply. Turkmenistan is keen to implement this project in order to diversify its export routes and decrease its dependency on China. \+/

“TurkmenGaz, Afghan Gas Enterprise, Inter State Gas Systems (Pakistan) and GAIL (India) are all shareholders in the Tapi Pipeline Company which will build, own and operate the pipeline. The Pakistani and Indian governments show no indication that they can pay for the pipeline. None of the four energy companies that formed the consortium has enough resources to fund the construction. They have debated from the very beginning about inviting a global energy giant to finance the project in the form of a private company with sufficient funds and expertise. Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Total and a few others have been mentioned as possible companies who could get involved. However, all these companies have demanded a share in developing the gas field if they are to take the risk of financing it. \+/

“Construction of the pipeline is a costly and risky venture, and companies want to make sure that they will make enough money in order to return their investments and make a profit. "You don't really make money from operating a pipeline," energy specialist John Roberts said. "You make money from developing a gas field and being able to export the gas." Only China has direct access to Turkmenistan's onshore gas fields but in return China has been investing billions of dollars into Turkmenistan and fully financed the construction of the Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline. As a result of Turkmenistan's position, all major Western energy companies are losing their interest in the Tapi project. \+/

“Security issues may not be the only obstacles to shipping gas through Tapi. It seems there is no coherent mechanism in place to prevent participating states from using the pipeline as political leverage against neighbours, particularly if there is a dispute between Pakistan and India. Turkmenistan's approach is to sell its gas at its border and argue that it is not responsible for whatever happens afterwards, says John Roberts. So it is not clear who will ensure that Pakistan will not cut off the gas flow into India if there is a new wave of tension between the two countries. \+/

“ More than 700km of the pipeline will cross through Afghanistan, including Helmand and Kandahar provinces that are traditionally considered to be Taliban strongholds. The Afghan government has promised to provide troops to protect the pipeline. However, with the end of Nato's operation, the security situation seems to be deteriorating. Recent reports about clashes near the Turkmen-Afghan border and the Taliban gaining strength in the north makes the project even less attractive for investors. The pipeline was expected to be operational from 2017 but has been pushed back to 2018. Recently, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said that the pipeline would not be completed in the next five years, casting even more doubt on its future.

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Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, U.S. government, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated April 2016

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