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25 February 2018, 12:16 | Colleen Roy
Pakistan, India to attend TAPI groundbreaking ceremony
The quartet aims to complete the 1,840 km pipeline and begin pumping natural gas from Turkmenistan's giant Galkynysh gas field by the beginning of 2020.
The long-awaited mega gas pipeline project of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) connecting the energy-rich Central Asian nation with the South Asian countries was inaugurated on Friday, with leaders of the four countries attending its groundbreaking ceremony in Serhetabat followed by another in Herat.
The 1840-kilometer (1140-mile) TAPI pipeline is to carry 33 billion cubic meters of gas a year, an important new export outlet for Turkmenistan whose economy centers on its vast natural gas reserves.
The ceremony was attended by hundreds of guests, including presidents of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, Prime Minister of Pakistan and India's Minister for External Affairs, in Herat, Afghanistan.
Ghani said the pipeline would "unite (the) countries" in quotes translated into Russian for reporters at the ceremony.
Ghani said this project was the start of trust in Afghanistan.
During his address, the premier appreciated President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamadov for converting a mere gas pipeline project into an energy and communication corridor.
Afghanistan would earn $500 million as royalty each year from the TAPI project, according to Afghan officials.
President Ashraf Ghani said that "TAPI is a sign of transforming Afghanistan from a confrontation point into a regional and worldwide cooperation point, and the nation not only welcomes the project but most importantly the concept". Mr Abbasi, who was accompanied by Minister of State for Energy Jam Kamal Khan, said TAPI would provide Pakistan the much needed gas security, as it would help meet 10 per cent of Pakistan's energy needs, 20 per cent of its natural gas requirements. However, there are indications that security of the project would not be a serious issue as Taliban spokesman too has given assurance to protect the pipeline because of its significance for Afghanistan.
The prime minister reiterated Pakistan's full support to Turkmenistan's policy of permanent neutrality and President Berdimuhamadov's initiatives at the UN.
India's Minister of State External Affairs at the event said his country is committed to supporting the project. This is because flow of more gas to Pakistan and India would mean sustainability of energy for their economic development while it would contribute a lot in generating economic activity in the war-torn Afghanistan.
The Prime Minister also congratulated the ADB for its role in making the project a reality.
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