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0 Tapi gas pipeline project: Afghanistan blocks progress

Afghanistan has reportedly blocked further progress on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline project, due to differences on pricing of gas

This information is contained in the Asian Development Bank(ADB) Technical Assistance (TA) 7756-Regional: Turkmenistan-Afghanistan- Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline project progress report which has been dispatched to the Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr.

Asim Hussain, Indian Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Jaipal Reddy, Minister for Oil and Gas and Natural Resources Turkmenistan and Minister for Mines, Afghanistan Wahidullah Shahrani.

ADB had earmarked $225,000 TA aimed at facilitating negotiations amongst the four parties.

The governments of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan , Pakistan , and India have been consulted by the Bank on the extent of assistance needed to facilitate the necessary agreements to trade in the exportation and importation of natural gas in the four countries.

"We are pleased to report significant progress made by the parties in bringing TAPI project closer to reality.

India, Pakistan and Turkmenistan initiated majority of the Gas Sales and Purchase Agreement(GSPA).

Nevertheless, the target GSPA signing date November 15, 2011 set during the 14th Steering Committee meeting in Ashqabat has not been met," ADB said in the report.

With regard to Afghanistan, the Bank said that there is no agreement on price.

A few GSPA clauses need further fine-tuning.

As a way forward, the ADB has suggested that the parties be allowed to continue working in Technical Working Group (TWG) and bilateral formats to finalise GSPA as soon as possible.

ADB has also proposed to call the 16th TWG meeting to bring the parties together in an effort to finalise the minor GSPA issues and hold further discussions on transit fee.

The necessary bilateral discussion between the parties may be carried out on the sidelines.

The Steering Committee has been requested to empower their representatives to approve new target GSPA signing within first quarter of 2012.

Recently, Pakistan inked one-paper 'intention' of signing GSPA for TAPI pipeline project, and not the agreement.

Camouflaging the media, the Petroleum Ministry suggested that the agreement on gas sales purchase relating to the gas pipeline project was inked by the Managing Director of Inter-State Gas System, Mubeen Saulat, and Chairman of Turkmenistan Gas Trade Concern Amanali Hanalyev.

Since mid-2010, the momentum of project negotiations picked up and, in December 2010, Inter Governmental Agreement (IGA), Gas Pipeline Framework Agreement (GPFA) and Heads of Agreement (HOA) for TAPI, GSPA were signed in Turkmenistan.

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