Islamabad, Feb. 23 (PTI): Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan have decided to invite India to join their $3.5-billion gas pipeline project to make it feasible.
The project aims to transport natural gas from the gas fields of Daulatabad in Turkmenistan to Pakistan.
“Since the viability of this huge project depends on the extension of the pipeline to India, it was decided to formally invite the Indian government to join the project,” Pakistan petroleum and natural resources minister Chaudhry Noraiz Shakoor Khan said at a joint news conference with the Turkmen deputy Prime Minister Yolly Qurbanmuradov and Afghan minister for mines and industries Juma Mohammad Mohammadi.
“All the three participating countries and the Asian Development Bank have decided to request India to join in,” Khan said. The official request would soon be sent to the Indian government, he added.
Khan said that according to the latest estimates, the 1,400-km pipeline project would cost around $3.5 billion and the ADB has extended a million-dollar funding to conduct a feasibility study.
The meeting also decided to conduct gas-demand studies in Pakistan and India as well as survey the capacity of the gas reserves in Turkmenistan.
Pakistani officials conceded that the long-term feasibility of the project, which was being pursued by the three countries since the fall of Taliban in Afghanistan, would depend on India’s response.
If the Indian government agrees, it could formally attend the next steering committee meeting of the stakeholders, scheduled to be held in April at the ADB headquarters in Manila.
The three ministers, however, refused to comment on the future of the project in case India refused to join them.
New Delhi has already refused to work out a more feasible gas pipeline project from Iran using Pakistan as land route, saying it cannot rely on Pakistan in the current security environment.
Instead, India opted for the more-costly deep-sea route from Iran to lay the pipes. “There were three options for the Iran-India gas pipeline project — overland; shallow waters and deep sea.
India preferred the deep-sea route, but it is not possible technically, and not feasible financially,” Pakistan’s petroleum secretary Abdullah Yousaf said.
Pakistan’s 23-trillion-cubic-feet gas reserves are fast depleting and expected to dry up in 22 years.