GAIL India Ltd will take 5 per cent stake in the international consortium building the $8.7 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. The four nations building the pipeline had in August agreed to co-own the project and a joint venture company with participation of each country is to be set up to build and operate the 1,814-kilometre line. "Turkmenistan's state-owned TurkmenGazwill be the leader of the consortium and shall take 85 per cent equity. India will be represented by GAIL which will take a 5 per cent interest", a senior government official said.
ISGS of Pakistan and Afghan Gas Enterprise (AGE) will also take 5 per cent stake each. The TAPI pipeline will have a capacity to carry 90 million standard cubic metres a day (mmscmd) gas for 30 years and is planned to become operational in 2018. India and Pakistan were originally to get 38 mmscmd each while the remaining 14 mmscmd was to be supplied to Afghanistan. But Kabul is now willing to take only 1.5-4 mmscmd so the share of India and Pakistan will go up to 43-44.25 mmscmd each, he said.
TAPI will carry gas from Turkmenistan's Galkynysh field, better known by its previous name South Yolotan Osman, that holds gas reserves of 16 trillion cubic feet. From the field, the pipeline will run to Herat and Kandahar province of Afghanistan, before entering Pakistan. In Pakistan, it will reach Multan via Quetta before ending at Fazilka (Punjab) in India. Turkmenistan on December 13 began work on the 214 km section of the pipeline in its territory. The pipeline will travel 773 km in Afghanistan and 827 km in Pakistan before touching Indian border.
For the security of the pipeline, the official said an inter-government Joint Security Task Force (JSTF) will be raised which will serve as nucleus of the security programme. Exact role and responsibilities in each host country are being worked out, he said adding a team would also be established to ensure operational continuity and which is capable of rapid repair of critical facilities and equipment in case of sabotage or accident.
The four nation consortium was stitched as no reputed international firm was willing to take lead in construction and operation of the pipeline. French giant Total SA had initially shown interest in leading a consortium of national oil companies of the four nations in the TAPI project. It, however, backed off after Turkmenistan refused to accept its condition of a stake in the gas field that will feed the pipeline.