Nearly 25 years after it was first initiated, the TAPI pipeline reaches the Afghan border to create a new economic corridor connecting Central and South Asia
February 26, 2018 – The President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, H.E. Ashraf Ghani returned to Kabul after a four-day trip to Herat for a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the start of construction for the Afghanistan section of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) Pipeline Project. Just over two years ago, in January 2016, TAPI was inaugurated by the leaders of the four countries. The project will carry gas from energy-rich Central Asia to supply the energy demands of South Asia. It will also serve as an economic corridor, with fiber optic and railroad planned as well.
Joined by the President of Turkmenistan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, and India’s Minister for External Affairs, President Ghani said at the opening ceremony on Friday, “Afghanistan believes in a policy of connectivity, not separation. South Asia is going to connect with Central Asia through Afghanistan, after a century of separation.”
President Ghani continued, “TAPI project means that Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India and other countries in the region have reached a joint economic cooperation which affects welfare of the region…we laid not only the foundation of a project, but also a vision to eradicate poverty and bring prosperity together.”
First initiated in 1995, TAPI connects the state of Punjab in India with the Galkynysh gas field in Turkmenistan, and will also include an accompanying fiber optic cable and later, a railroad along part of the route. The TAPI pipeline has finally come to fruition after the current Afghan administration refocused efforts to revive the project over the past three years.
816 kilometers of the TAPI pipeline in Afghanistan will be constructed alongside the Kandahar-Herat Highway in western Afghanistan, passing through Herat, Farah, Nimroz, Helmand, and Kandahar provinces. The pipeline will pass through Quetta and Multan in Pakistan, ending in the Indian town of Fazilka.
Upon completion, it will be 1,814 kilometers long. It will transfer 33 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India. The pipeline will bring in $500 million USD of revenue annually in transit duties to Afghanistan, and 500 million cubic meters of gas for the first ten years, and one billion cubic meters for 20 years after that.
The start of construction on the Afghanistan section of the TAPI project was welcomed warmly by Afghans. Celebrations of music and dancing filled the streets from Herat to Nanagarhar, and other provinces as the Afghan people showed support for the project, which is a major step towards economic connectivity and regional collaboration. Citizens are hopeful that the pipeline will bring thousands of job opportunities for local Afghans. “We announce our support to this project and will try to make this project successful. We urge government to implement other projects here too. Our message to the world is that we as a nation want peace, not war,” Hedayatullah Zahir, head of Watanpal Civil Society Organization in Nangarhar, said in an interview with Tolo News.