Help from Shahrukh Khan in TAPI price talks

Vol 15, PW 4 (25 Aug 11) People & Policy

Bollywood icon Shahrukh Khan and actress Priyanka Chopra could soon be shaking their hips in an effort to help India secure a good price for gas delivered through the proposed 1680-km TAPI pipeline from the Dauletabad gasfield in Turkmenistan.

PETROWATCH learns Turkmenistan culture minister Gulmyrat Myradov has with open arms embraced a proposal for a Hindi film song to be shot in the country, starring Khan and Chopra, both cavorting around a popular local tourist attraction. Myradov has also offered to arrange a ‘public felicitation’ ceremony for the two Bollywood stars and set up a meeting with Turkmen president Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.

Oil ministry officials hope Khan and Chopra’s combined star power will be enough to sway Berdimuhamedov and resolve lingering disagreement between TAPI participating countries over the gas price and ‘transit’ fees. How did all this come about Bollywood films are hugely popular in Turkmenistan, we hear.

So when a Mumbai-based film producer suggested Khan and Chopra do a song and dance routine in the country, India’s ambassador to Turkmenistan thought it would be an excellent opportunity to kick-start stalled talks on the TAPI gas price. Ambassador Sunil Jain, a former oil ministry official, met Myradov at Ashgabat on July 22 and asked him for his opinion.

He describes this successful meeting in a letter to the film producer on July 25, with copies marked to oil ministry joint secretary international cooperation Vivek Kumar and GAIL chairman BC Tripathi. “Coincidentally,” writes Jain, “during our meeting, a local TV channel was showing a Hindi movie!” Myradov, he adds, couldn’t have been happier about the prospect of Khan and Chopra visiting the Central Asian republic, as Bollywood “holds a special place in Turkmen hearts.

” Expect Khan and Chopra to be dancing around Turkmenistan’s Flaming Gas Crater, located 280-km north of Ashgabat, this September.