IOC keen to partner GAIL in TAPI pipeline project

Tags: News
Indian Oil Corp, the nation's largest oil firm, is keen on joining gas utility GAIL India Ltd for implementation of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan- Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline.

IOC wants to be equal partner with GAIL in the USD 9 billion project with equal rights to sell gas imported from the pipeline, officials said.

Billed as 'Peace Pipeline' for the troubled South-Asia region, the US-backed 1,680-km TAPI project is likely to be completed by 2017-18.

The four nations have nominated a company each for implementation of the project with GAIL being the Indian representative.

Now, IOC wants to joint GAIL as equal partner, they said.

The TAPI pipeline would originate from Turkmenistan and pass through Afghanistan and Pakistan before entering India. It will have a capacity to carry 90 million standard cubic metres of gas per day (mmscmd) for a 30-year period and will be operational in 2018.

India and Pakistan would get 38 mmscmd each, while the remaining 14 mmscmd will be supplied to Afghanistan.

Officials said IOC, in a recent presentation to Oil Secretary Saurabh Chandra, stated that it wants to market half of the gas India will import through the pipeline.

Interestingly, Bangladesh has renewed its case for joining TAPI.

Dhaka had in May 2012 sent an initial proposal to the TAPI steering committee expressing interest in the project. The panel accepted it and asked for more details.

But Bangaldesh's state-owned Gas Transmission Co Ltd in a preliminary study concluded that the project would not be economical given the great distance between Dhaka and both the pipeline origin and terminus.

It had felt a huge amount of money would have to be paid to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India as wheeling charges.

But now there is a rethink because of dismal outlook for Bangladesh's gas exploration. The nation's 3 billion cubic feet per day demand is projected to rise while its output stagnate at 2.34 billion cubic feet a day.

Officials said the four nations to the pipeline are looking for a leader of the consortium that will build the project.

While Asian Development Bank (ADB) has already been appointed as the transaction advisor, the consortium leader will be selected shortly.

The project has not taken off as was envisaged in 2012 when the four nations signed the TAPI pipeline deal. No international pipeline company is willing to implement the project unless Turkmenistan gives a share in its gas fields.

Turkmenistan, which does not give foreign firms stake in its oil and gas fields, has so far refused to give any interest in the upstream project to the pipeline company, they said.

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