Pakistan invokes 'Allah' for TAPI pipeline success

Vol 15, PW 19 (05 Apr 12) People & Policy

More than a heavy dose of optimism is needed before the four TAPI consortium countries begin actual construction work on a proposed gas pipeline that will cross one of the bloodiest war zones in the world: Afghanistan.

Perhaps that’s why Pakistan’s Harvard-educated oil secretary Muhammad Ejaz Chaudhry invoked his creator when asked by PETROWATCH about the progress of the proposed 1680-km gas pipeline project from Turkmenistan’s Dauletabad gasfield, passing through Afghanistan and Pakistan to India. “Insha’Allah (Arabic for ‘God willing’) we will finalise the TAPI gas price and ‘transit fees’ by April 30,” he said on March 23, on the sidelines of the 7th Asia Pacific Gas Summit in Delhi.

“We should commence actual pipeline construction work within the next eight or 10 months; at the most within a year.” Silver-haired Chaudhry, 57, is a smooth talker but is also quick to point out that with all the challenges facing the $7.6bn pipeline project, eventual success depends on the state of preparedness of all the partners.

“In the given circumstances, work should start at the earliest and finish at the earliest,” he added. Ideally, the 56-inch diameter pipeline will be ready within the next three years and commissioned by mid-2016 with a capacity to carry 90m cm/d.

Of the total pipeline length, 735-km will pass through war-torn Afghanistan. “We hope everything goes well and we must all pray we can stick to this schedule,” said Chaudhry.

“This pipeline will foster regional partnerships, peace and prosperity on the subcontinent.” Not everybody is so optimistic.

UK-based pipeline consultant Morten Frisch, also present at the Asia Pacific Gas Summit said: “One should not forget the ‘A’ in TAPI stands for Afghanistan which is full to the brim with Taliban. Can you imagine what the Taliban would go for with the explosives at their disposal What else can I say” Insha’Allah Frisch is wrong!