The leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan were in the capital of gas–rich Turkmenistan Saturday to push forward on ambitions to build a pipeline across their countries.
The pipeline, which would terminate in India, would bring huge amounts of gas to underdeveloped regions and could earn impoverished Afghanistan hundreds of millions of dollars in transit fees. But it would cross both Taliban–intensive stretches of Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan’s unruly tribal areas.
The leaders, along with Turkmenistan’s president and India’s oil minister are expected to sign a document expressing support for the project. The next step would likely be to seek proposals and bids from energy companies.
Efforts to get the pipeline — called TAPI after the countries involved — under way have intensified in recent months as Afghanistan seeks ways to kick–start its economy, while Pakistan and India explore how to slake their energy thirst.
The project has also won vocal support from the United States, which is strongly opposed to India and Pakistan drawing supplies from Iran through another proposed gas pipeline.
Turkmenistan, which is believed to hold the world’s fourth–largest gas reserves, is eager to find new markets for its potentially gargantuan energy exports amid flagging interest from Russia, its traditional client.
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