Friday, July 13, 2012

Major Powers Supporting TAPI

Despite the obvious security problems surrounding the potential route of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline, major regional and international powers are supporting the project.  According to independent Indian energy analyst Saurav Jha, the United States is supporting the project to isolate Iran from regional integration efforts, and to showcase the potential of the American "New Silk Road Initiative."  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held a Foreign Ministerial meeting in September 2011 with all of Afghanistan's neighbors to announce the launch of this effort, designed to bring economic development and political stability to the area.

Russian interests appear aligned with the US (although they differ on the rival Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline).  In both cases Russia is offering to participate in the construction of the line.  On the subcontinent itself, the Indian Gail Ltd company signed in May an agreement with Turkmenistan to purchase TAPI gas.  (Kabul signed a memorandum of understanding, but did not sign a formal agreement).

State Gas Systems of Pakistan also signed a purchase agreement in May.  Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari sent a message to Turkemn President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammadov stating the construction of TAPI was "essential" and the start of a new era of cooperation, according to   Zardari identified the pipeline as a major project:  "Pakistan is considering the construction of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline as a major project, which is the beginning of a new era of cooperation at the regional and interregional levels."

There is little chance of TAPI being constructed until after the United States and NATO withdraw their troops from Afghanistan in 2014, and the Afghan government shows it has the ability to maintain security of the proposed pipeline.