Turkmen deal boosts Afghan pipeline project

Associated Press Modified: May 23, 2012 at 3:00 am •  Published: May 23, 2012
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ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) — Turkmenistan signed a natural gas deal with Pakistan and India on Wednesday, in a significant boost to the proposed construction of a 1,800-kilometer (1,100-mile) pipeline across Afghanistan.

Representatives from India's state-owned Gail Ltd. and Pakistan's privately run Pakistan's Inter State Gas System traveled to Turkmenistan to formalize the deal, which will see the two countries receive gas through a pipeline projected to pump 90 million cubic meters (3.18 billion cubic feet) a day. They hope the gas supplies will help to meet their growing energy needs, which are set to double by 2030.

"This is a truly historic moment of unparalleled regional cooperation," said Klaus Gerhaeusser, director general of the Asian Development Bank's Central and West Asia department. "Each country stands to gain, making this not only the 'Peace Pipeline,' but a pipeline to prosperity as well."

Turkmenistan and Afghanistan have not reached a sales agreement, but the two countries have signed a memorandum of understanding on long-term gas cooperation, according to the Asian Development Bank, which has been brokering negotiations over the construction over a regional pipeline for a decade.

Information on prices and the amount of gas to be purchased by specific nations has not been made public. Media in Pakistan have cited the country's petroleum minister as saying the gas would cost less than was being paid for Iranian gas.

It has been widely assumed that gas for the pipeline, which will run through Afghanistan, Pakistan and end up in India, is to be sourced from the Dauletabad field in southern Turkmenistan.