Cabinet splits over IP, TAPI gas pipeline projects
* IP gas pipeline project four times cheaper source than TAPI project
* Intense American pressure against IP pipeline
By Zeeshan Javaid
ISLAMABAD: Two major factions of federal cabinet split over the significance of billion-dollar Iran Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project as ministry of industries called IP cheapest resource of energy opposing the diverted stance of petroleum ministry calling Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India (TAPI) most efficient than any other energy resource.
Brushing aside the four times cheaper energy resource IP gas pipeline project under well-built pressure by Washington, federal government inked Gas Sales Purchase Agreement (GSPA) under $7.6 billion trans-Afghan pipeline project providing 3.2 billion cubic feet (BCF) from Turkmenistan on November 14.
A senior official of ministry of industries, on condition of anonymity informed Daily Times that federal government particularly ministry of petroleum and natural resources went under hot waters over the issue if IP gas pipeline project, which is four time cheaper energy resource than other resources including TAPI project.
He said that most important factor, which is being ignore by the ministry of petroleum and natural resources is the worsen law and order situation in Afghanistan in case of TAPI, where hundred and thousands of NATO forces deployed on war against terror and no guarantee of infrastructure security.
Afghan official had claimed that more than 1600 troops of Afghan National Army (ANA) would be deployed over the site, where the pipeline is being passed in Afghan territory, but no official paper and agreement about security concerns has been observed during series of episodes.
Reportedly, both former and present managers including Syed Naveed Qamar and Dr Asim Hussain respectively called $1.25 billion IP gas pipeline project the cheaper energy resource than any other mega project to meet the energy needs, however later on all attention was diverted towards TAPI after well-built pressure by Washington.
To review the following differences between two mega imported energy resources TAPI and IP, sources maintained that actual cost of TAPI was announced $3.2 billion, which was later on shoot up to $7.6 billion because of long delay in materialisation due to lack of authentic policy of petroleum ministry, while the cost of IP gas pipeline was stood up to $1.25 billion, which is four times cheaper than trans-Afghan project.
To control the law and order situation and arrangement of security infrastructure is much easier on the pipeline network of IP as it would pass through Khuzdar district of Balochistan province and Karachi in Sindh, while the main pipeline will continue towards Multan, while in case of TAPI more security risk is involved due to continued war within Afghanistan.
One important thing is that Iran has completed more than 90 percent construction work pipeline infrastructure on Iranian side and Pakistan should start the infrastructure development on priority basis, which unfortunately could not be observed.
Ministry of petroleum claimed yet that the GSPA under TAPI project would be followed by the signing of ‘Heads of Agreement’ and Transportation and Transit accords, by the end of December.
A senior energy manager ascertained that the imported natural gas from Turkmenistan and Iran would help the country meet around 70 percent of its shortfall.
The 1,680 kilometres long Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India (TAPI) gas pipeline backed by the Asian Development Bank will bring 3.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day (bcfd) from Turkmenistan’s gas fields to Multan and end at the north-western Indian town of Fazilka.
Official of petroleum ministry on condition of anonymity said that under the GSPA Pakistan was likely to pay 70 percent of crude oil price in international market.
Under the agreement Afghanistan’s share would be 500 million cubic feet per day (Mmcfd), Pakistan 1,325 Mmcfd and India 1,325 Mmcfd.
Official maintained that construction of the pipeline is likely to commence soon and would be completed by 2013-14, which would help overcome growing energy crisis in the country that caused of electricity and gas shortages across the country.
TAPI gas pipeline was to run alongside the Herat-Kandahar Highway in Afghanistan and pass through Chaman-Zhob-DG Khan, Multan in Pakistan.