ADB lobbies for pipeline from Turkmenistan

Vol 6, PW 21 (18 Dec 02) Midstream & Downstream

IF UNOCAL FAILS to persuade the Bangladesh government to export gas to India it could do worse than revive one of its earlier projects to build a pipeline from the Dauletabad gasfield in Turkmenistan to Delhi.

Embassy officials in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat report a sustained and vigorous campaign by the Manila-based Asian Development Bank to persuade Delhi to renew its interest in a gas pipeline from Dauletabad through Afghanistan into Pakistan and eventually to India. Enthusiasm for this proposal - until recently thought dead and buried - stems from what the ADB describes as a significant pro-India policy shift by authorities in Turkmenistan "who have agreed to accept ownership and responsibility of gas till it reaches the borders of the buyer-country (India)." According to embassy officials, this is a crucial shift from Turkmenistan's earlier stance of not accepting responsibility for gas beyond its own borders and is one of the key components to emerge from an inter-governmental agreement in Ashgabat between Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan hammered out in October by the project steering committee.

"India's security concerns (towards Pakistan) led to Turkmenistan agreeing to guarantee safe and reliable supply upto the borders of the buyer country," reveals the Indian embassy. "Turkmenistan is keen to ensure the success of the project." Determined to see the project succeed, the ADB warns that unless India is included "the biggest market in the region will be lost for ever."