Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline

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Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline
Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline
A map of the proposed route of TAPI by the U.S. Energy Information Administration
A map of the proposed route of TAPI by the U.S. Energy Information Administration
Country Turkmenistan
General direction north–south
From Iolotan gas field, Turkmenistan
Passes through Herat
To Fazilka, India
Runs alongside Kandahar–Herat Highway
General information
Type Natural gas
Technical information
Length 1,735 km (1,078 mi)
Maximum discharge 27 billion cubic meters per year

The Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline (also known as Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline, TAP or TAPI) is a proposed natural gas pipeline being developed by the Asian Development Bank.[1] The pipeline will transport Caspian Sea natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India. Construction on the project is scheduled to start on December 13, 2015.[2] The pipeline is expected to be operational by December 2018.[3] The abbreviation TAPI comes from the first letters of those countries. Proponents of the project see it as a modern continuation of the Silk Road.[4][5] Originally the cost of the pipeline project was reportedly estimated at $7.6 billion, but a more recent estimate was $10 billion.[6] GAIL India may become a part of TAPI project.[7]


The roots of this project lie in the involvement of international oil companies in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan beginning of 1990s. As Russia, who controlled all export pipelines of these countries, consistently refusing to allow the use of its pipeline network, these companies needed an independent export route avoiding both Iran and Russia.[8][9]

The original project started on 15 March 1995 when an inaugural memorandum of understanding between the governments of Turkmenistan and Pakistan for a pipeline project was signed. This project was promoted by Argentinian company Bridas Corporation. The U.S. company Unocal, in conjunction with the Saudi oil company Delta, promoted alternative project without Bridas' involvement. On 21 October 1995, these two companies signed a separate agreement with Turkmenistan's president Saparmurat Niyazov. In August 1996, the Central Asia Gas Pipeline, Ltd. (CentGas) consortium for construction of a pipeline, led by Unocal, was formed. On 27 October 1997, CentGas was incorporated in formal signing ceremonies in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, by several international oil companies along with the Government of Turkmenistan.[citation needed]

Since the pipeline was to pass through Afghanistan, it was necessary to work with the Taliban. The U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Robert Oakley, moved into CentGas in 1997. In January 1998, the Taliban, selecting CentGas over Argentinian competitor Bridas Corporation, signed an agreement that allowed the proposed project to proceed. In June 1998, Russian Gazprom relinquished its 10% stake in the project. On 7 August 1998, American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam were bombed. The United States alleged that Osama bin Laden was behind those attacks, and all pipeline negotiations halted, as the Taliban's then leader, Mullah Omar, announced that bin Laden had the Taliban's support. Unocal withdrew from the consortium on 8 December 1998, and soon after closed its offices in Afghanistan and Pakistan.[citation needed]

After September 11 attacks some people came to believe that a possible motivation for the attacks included justifying the invasions of Afghanistan as well as geostrategic interests such as the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline project.[10] The new deal on the pipeline was signed on 27 December 2002 by the leaders of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan.[11] In 2005, the Asian Development Bank submitted the final version of a feasibility study designed by British company Penspen. The project has drawn strong US support as it would allow the Central Asian republics to export energy to Western markets "without relying on Russian routes". Then-US Ambassador to Turkmenistan Ann Jacobsen noted that: "We are seriously looking at the project, and it is quite possible that American companies will join it."[12] Due to increasing instability, the project has essentially stalled; construction of the Turkmen part was supposed to start in 2006, but the overall feasibility is questionable since the southern part of the Afghan section runs through territory which continues to be under de facto Taliban control.[12]

On 24 April 2008, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan signed a framework agreement to buy natural gas from Turkmenistan.[13] The intergovernmental agreement on the pipeline was signed on 11 December 2010 in Ashgabat.[14] However, in April 2012, India and Afghanistan have failed to agree on transit fee for gas passing through Afghan territory. Consequently, Islamabad and New Delhi too could not agree on the transit fee for the segment of the pipeline passing through Pakistan, which has linked its fee structure to any India-Afghanistan agreement.[15] On 16 May 2012, the Afghan Parliament, approved the agreement on a gas pipeline and the day after, the Indian Cabinet allowed state-run gas-firm GAIL to sign the Gas Sale and Purchase Agreement (GSPA) with TürkmenGaz, Turkmenistan’s national oil company.[16]

Technical features[edit]

The pipeline will be 1,420 millimetres (56 in) in diameter with a working pressure of 100 standard atmospheres (10,000 kPa).[17] The initial capacity will be 27 billion cubic metres (950 billion cubic feet) of natural gas per year of which 2 billion cubic metres (71 billion cubic feet) will be provided to Afghanistan and 12.5 billion cubic metres (440 billion cubic feet) to each Pakistan and India. Later the capacity will increase to 33 billion cubic metres (1.2 trillion cubic feet).[18] Six compressor stations would be constructed along the pipeline.[17] The pipeline was expected to be operational by 2014.[19]

The pipeline's cost is estimated at US$7.6 billion.[13] The Asian Development Bank has played a leading role in coordinating and facilitating the TAPI negotiation process. The four TAPI nations must still attract commercial partners to build, finance and operate the pipeline.[20]

Route and other information[edit]

The 1,735 kilometres (1,078 mi)-long pipeline will run from gas fields in Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan to India. Early sources reported that the pipeline would start from the Dauletabad gas field while more recent reports indicate that it will start from the Iolotan (Galkynysh) gas field.[17][21][22] [6]

In Afghanistan, TAPI pipeline will be constructed alongside the Kandahar–Herat Highway in western Afghanistan, and then via Quetta and Multan in Pakistan.[23] The final destination of the pipeline will be the Indian town of Fazilka, near the border between Pakistan and India.[17]

Afghanistan will have the right to use 600 million to 5 billion cubic meters of gas per annum, and to earn about $400 million per year in transit fees.[24]


  • Construction on the project is scheduled to start in December 2015.[2] The project is expected to be completed by December 2018.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Abdujalil Abdurasulov, ed. (2015-07-16). "Is Turkmenistan's gas line a pipe dream?". BBC. Retrieved 2015-07-17. 
  2. ^ a b "Turkmenistan and Afghanistan to Lay New Pipeline". The Associated Press (New York Times). November 10, 2015. Retrieved November 10, 2015. 
  3. ^ TAPI gas pipeline construction to take 5 years: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani - 29 April 2015, India Times
  4. ^ Mehdudia, Sujay (2010-12-11). "TAPI project will be the new Silk Route, says Deora". The Hindu (Kasturi & Sons Ltd. / The Hindu Group). Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  5. ^ 0 Bhadrakumar, M. K. (2010-12-24). "U.S. brings Silk Road to India". The Hindu (Kasturi & Sons Ltd. / The Hindu Group). Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  6. ^ a b Graeber, Daniel J. (2014-12-03). "Kazakhstan keen on TAPI gas pipeline". UPI. Retrieved 2015-02-25. 
  7. ^ "GAIL may become partner in TAPI gas pipeline project". 8 June 2012. 
  8. ^ Brisard, Jean-Charles; Dasquie, Guillaume (2002). Forbidden Truth – U.S. Taliban Secret Oil Diplomacy and the Failed Hunt for bin Laden. Nation Books. pp. ?. ISBN 978-1-56025-414-0. 
  9. ^ LeVine, Steve (2007). The Oil and the Glory: The Pursuit of Empire and Fortune on the Caspian Sea. Random House. p. 496. ISBN 0375506144. 
  10. ^ Knight, Peter (2008). "Outrageous Conspiracy Theories: Popular and Official Responses to 9/11 in Germany and the United States". New German Critique 35: 165–93[clarification needed]. doi:10.1215/0094033X-2007-024. 
  11. ^ McWilliam, Ian (2002-12-27). "Central Asia pipeline deal signed". BBC. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  12. ^ a b Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed (October 2009). "Our Terrorists". New Internationalist. Retrieved 2009-12-07. 
  13. ^ a b "Trio sign up for Turkmen gas". Upstream Online (NHST Media Group). 2008-04-25. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  14. ^ "Agreement sought on Afghan-Pakistan gas pipeline". CNBC. Associated Press. 2010-12-11. Retrieved 2010-12-11. 
  15. ^ "TAPI: India, Afghanistan Fail to Agree on Transit Fee". The Gazette of Central Asia (Satrapia). 2012-04-18. Retrieved 2012-05-06. 
  16. ^ "India Authorizes to Sign TAPI Gas Sales and Purchase Pact". The Gazette of Central Asia (Satrapia). 2012-05-18. Retrieved 2012-05-18. 
  17. ^ a b c d "Gas pipeline project Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India approved". Alexander's Gas & Oil Connections. 2006-11-21. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  18. ^ "Talks Over Gas Pipeline Project Kick Off In Islamabad". Downstream Today. Xinhua. 2008-04-23. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  19. ^ Joshi, Deepak; Siddiqi, Kamal (2008-04-24). "India Joins Gas Pipeline Project". Hindustan Times (Downstream Today). Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  20. ^ [1] Historic Agreements Bring Long-Awaited TAPI Pipeline Closer to Reality
  21. ^ "Turkmenistan- Afghanistan – Pakistan-India [TAPI] Pipeline". Ministry of Mines. Retrieved 2012-01-27. 
  22. ^ Mehdudia, Sujay (2012-01-25). "TAPI project takes a step forward". The Hindu. Retrieved 2012-01-27. 
  23. ^ Mustafa, Khalid (2003-02-22). "Alternate route for pipeline to be discussed today". Daily Times. Retrieved 2012-01-27. 
  24. ^ Abdul Qadir Siddiqui (2013-07-13). "Transit fee for TAPI gas pipeline agreed". Pajhwok Afghan News. Retrieved 2013-07-13. 
  25. ^ "Turkmenistan: President Orders Start to Work on TAPI Pipeline". 7 November 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2015.