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Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline

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. Physical work on the pipeline is expected to start in December 2015.[2] The framework for the project's launch, as well as its completion, has been pushed back for many years: for instance, according to an April 2015 statement by Afghan President, the pipeline should become operational in 2020.[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]


  • History 1
  • Technical features 2
  • Route and other information 3
  • Status 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6


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.

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.

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.[13] 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.[14] 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.[15]

Technical features

The pipeline will be 1,420 millimetres (56 in) in diameter with a working pressure of 100 standard atmospheres (10,000 kPa).[16] 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).[17] Six compressor stations would be constructed along the pipeline.[16] The pipeline was expected to be operational by 2014.[18]

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.[19]

Route and other information

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.[16][20][21] [6]

In Afghanistan, TAPI pipeline will be constructed alongside the Kandahar–Herat Highway in western Afghanistan, and then via Quetta and Multan in Pakistan.[22] The final destination of the pipeline will be the Indian town of Fazilka, near the border between Pakistan and India.[16]

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.[23]


  • Turkmenistan to start pipeline construction in December 2015.[2]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ TAPI gas pipeline construction to take 5 years: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani - 29 April 2015, India Times
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^ a b c
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b c d
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ [1] Historic Agreements Bring Long-Awaited TAPI Pipeline Closer to Reality
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
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