TAPI : Light at the end of the tunnel ?

On Dec 14th , Turkmenistan’s Mary city witnessed launch of a multilateral , multi country gas pipeline project that will deliver natural gas from central Asia to Pakistan,India and Afghanistan. This pipeline is expected to be operational by 2019. Starting from the Galkynysh gas field in Turkmenistan, the 1,814-km pipeline will be built along the Kandahar–Herat Highway in western Afghanistan, and then via Quetta and Multan in Pakistan. It will finally reach Fazillka, the border town of India.

The expected rewards for from this collaborated pipeline are plenty. India and Pakistan each will get 1.3 billion of the total 3.3 billion cubic feet gas that will be pumped out of the earth. Afghanistan stands to earn 400 million dollars each year as transit fee. Afghanistan is looking at future benefits from the CASA 1000 project that brings through its mountains , the hydrocarbon power from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Turkemenistan will be heavily depended on China for export of its gas from TAPI pipeline. Interestingly , these many stakeholders countries are not best friends of each other elsewhere. The kick-off and maturing of this giant pipeline will demand close cooperation and matured understanding among this partner nations.

For India , the pipeline will be a major constructive collaboration with Afghanistan — in past India has built hospital and the recently inaugurated Parliament in Kabul. The pipeline projects ups India’s stake in a more stable and peaceful Afghanistan and TAPI pipeline also will feed the massively increasing energy demands of India’s growing economy. TAPI also will allow for India’s closer interaction with central Asia. Micahel Tunchum of the Atlantic Council stated “ “If TAPI succeeds, the strategic for India would be enormous. India would be able to develop a significant footprint in Central Asia, something its ‘Connect Central Asia’ policy has so far failed to do,”.

The Pipeline however isn’t a perfect project and is fraught with dangers and risks. The gas pipe is designed to pass through most lawless part of Afghanistan, including Kandhar which has been stronghold of Taliban. While Afghanistan has promised to deploy 7000 security guards to protect the pipeline, it escalates the cost