KABUL (Agencies): Work on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project – a major regional economic project – has faced another delay in its construction inside Afghanistan over a postponement in land acquisition, among other issues, according to local officials.
Work on the project in Afghanistan began in February 2018 and will include a 1,814-kilometer gas pipeline intended to pass through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India, with at least 816 kilometers of the pipeline passing through Afghanistan.
The pipeline will pass through Herat, Farah, Nimroz, Helmand and Kandahar provinces in Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan, the TAPI pipeline will be constructed alongside the Kandahar–Herat Highway in western Afghanistan, and then via Quetta and Multan in Pakistan. The final destination of the pipeline will be the Indian town of Fazilka, near the border with Pakistan.
The project will cost over $8 billion.
According to the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, some required letters for the start of the project have not been signed. And according to the Natural Resources Monitoring Network, construction on the project will be delayed for another six months.
“There is a need for the approval of the law (on land acquisition) but there are delays because the MPs are busy in (discussing) former decrees by the president. I think it will take six months to pass this phase,” said Ibrahim Jafarai, member of the Natural Resources Monitoring Network.
When the project’s agreement was signed in 2015, the work on Afghanistan’s part was scheduled for 2017.
Last year, the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum said work on the project will begin at the beginning of 2020.
“We will sign four MoUs in the near future, and the host country’s (Turkmenistan’s) MoU is important. After that, the construction work of the project will begin in Afghanistan,” said Abdul QadirMutfi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum.
Critics said more government focus is required on projects like TAPI and should be prioritized, because they will have a major impact on the country’s economy.
“The chances of the project failing might increase if there are alternatives for it,” said QaisMohammadi, an economic commentator.
Afghanistan’s Share from TAPI
Afghanistan is expected to earn more than $400 million USD in transit duties annually from the project.
Afghanistan will annually get 500 million cubic meters of gas from the project in the first ten years. The amount will increase to one billion cubic meters of gas in the following ten years and 1.5 billion cubic meters of gas in the third 10 years after the completion of the project.