Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan : SD ANALYSIS
– Energy Corridors

Energy corridors have become gate-way to sustainable
development around the globe. Energy corridors or pipeline diplomacy promotes,
supports, and facilitates greater economic integration in the world and
especially among the different regions. In the economic liberalization arena,
energy seems to be centre point as more energy means more socio-economic
prosperity, regional connectivity, massive industrialization and job

Greater regional connectivity through the noble
concept of “shared prosperity” is being carried out in the world through
different mega projects/regional corporations/economic corridors in different
continents. Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India (TAPI) is the prime
example of regional energy corridors in Asian continent.

TAPI gas pipeline is a game and fate changer for all
the participating countries. It will enhance energy as well as food security in
the regions. TAPI 1814 Kilometer has now entered into new phase after arriving
in Afghanistan. The pipe will link the regions of Central Asia and South Asia
and transport up to 33 bcm of natural gas. Turkmen gas will help cover the
growing need for blue fuel in India and Pakistan, where by 2030 the needs could
jump up by half. The pipe will also reduce the constant shortage of energy
resources in transit Afghanistan.

Currently, the Turkmen section of the gas pipeline is
being laid in line with the schedule. The pipeline will run from Galkynysh the
largest gas field in Turkmenistan through the Afghan cities of Herat and
Kandahar, and finally reach the Fazilka settlement located near the
India-Pakistan border.

TAPI the dream gas pipeline has a strategic
importance, utility, productivity and durability to achieve greater regional
peace and prosperity in the days to come. It would provide crucial inputs to
achieve a stable and sustainable growth patterns for all the participatory
countries. TAPI would boast the regional economies and open up unlimited
avenues of prosperity. It would be win-win situation for all the four

The construction of the Turkmen section of the TAPI
was launched in December 2015. The total length of the pipeline is 1,814
kilometers, including 214 kilometers on the territory of Turkmenistan, 774
kilometers Afghanistan, 826 kilometers of Pakistan to the settlement of Fazilka
on the border with India.

It will be a joint-giant effort in linking the
energy-deficit economies of South Asia to the hydrocarbon-rich Central Asian
countries. It will provide cheaper and environment-friendly energy to
consumers. It will generate incomes/revenues that can be used for developing
the social sectors especially schooling, medication, clean water and housing.

TAPI is gradually inching towards its completion which
has encouraged other regional countries like China to join it. Most recently,
China has formally approached the Pakistani authorities and submitted a
proposal for a China-Turkmenistan Pipeline (CTP) that is to cross several
Central Asian mountain ranges. According to managing director of Inter State
Gas Systems (ISGS) of Pakistan CTP would be cheaper and easier for China to
build one from Pakistan’s territory to cross the Karakoram Range to its western
border. Chinese government proposal will be conveyed to Turkmenistan
accordingly, he added.

Pakistan is likely to sign the host country agreement
in the near future to allow formally the laying and passing of the TAPI gas
pipeline through its territory and facilitating India to connect it near the
Fazilka district. Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to inaugurate the
780km-long portion of the TAPI project. It is expected that a high profile
delegation from Turkmenistan will be soon in the country to finalize the
details of the TAPI.

The signing ceremony has been delayed since December
2017. Though the outgoing PML-N led government once planned to sign the
agreement and get the civil work launched during May, it couldn’t do so after
the quarters concerned left the same on interim or next elected government.

Pakistan has completed the entire preparatory works
(survey, mapping, soil tests, land acquisition etc.) required ahead of
launching the civil work for laying the pipeline.

The TAPI pipeline will begin in the first quarter of
2019 and the project will be completed in two and a half years. Moreover,
Afghanistan and Pakistan have given sovereign guarantees to ensure the
pipeline’s security.

Most recently the chief executive officer and chairman
of the board of TAPI Pipeline Company Ltd, Turkmenistan, Muhammetmyrat Amanov
has visited Pakistan and assured its timely completion. He said construction
work would start in the first quarter of next year. Pipeline would be laid till
Pakistan in two years and it would take between six and eight months to lay the
pipeline from Pakistan to India. TAPI would create as many as 10,000 jobs. He
said the price of gas provided through this pipeline would significantly be
lower as compared to the price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

Sharing about the various financing opportunities and
options he said that Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Islamic Corporation for
the Insurance of Investment and the Export Credit (ICIEC) had confirmed $500
million and $300m, respectively, would boost industrialization in the region.
He further elaborated that his company had experience of working in Afghanistan
and Pakistan, so hopefully there would not be any security issue. Moreover,
there was commitment from Afghanistan that it would provide foolproof security
to the project. This project showcases the political will of all the
participating countries including the United States and China, are supportive
of this project. Moreover, Russian, Japanese and American machinery and support
is being used in the project,” he said.

Talking about the security parameters and arrangement
of the TAPI he said there would not be any security issue in Pakistan, adding
that Afghanistan had also given assurance to provide security to the pipeline.

Being a prominent regional expert on Turkmenistan/TAPI
it is estimated that the timely completion of TAPI pipeline project will cater
Pakistan’s growing needs of energy in domestic and commercial sectors. Moreover,
TAPI is not an ordinary pipeline project. It has various benefits. It is
cheaper than liquid petroleum gas (LPG), the pipeline project will also ensure
regional connectivity between these four countries. It would provide energy as
well as food security. The pipeline can prove instrumental in facilitating a
unique level of trade and cooperation across the region, while also supporting
peace and security between the four nations.

There are some snags in the early completion of the
TAPI. Shaky and unreliable assurance of Taliban, incomplete land acquisition
process in Afghanistan (only 45 % has yet been completed in five provinces),
provision of financing especially for Pakistan and Chinese version of TAPI
would be hard to surpass. Innovative models of financing (may be assured
through transit fee mechanism) and probable cooperation and collaboration with
China would bring the desired goals associated with the TAPI. Chances of
non-state actors, serious concerns of security agencies, and absence of interstate
mechanism of conflict resolution would also be resolved as soon as possible.

The ongoing tussle on the China Pakistan Economic
Corridor (CPEC) among different stakeholders is a wake-up call for TAPI too.
Communication gap, avoiding of local media, trapping to fake and fraudulent
people/group/centers have created serious dints which needs to be rectified as
soon as possible. Caravans of regional security, peace, progress and prosperity
must not be hijacked by means and meager segments of the society. Embassies
must be careful from these unidentified viruses.    

Media is a double sword so there must be group of
genuine scholars, experts and journalists comprising of all the participating
countries to cope with the western imperialistic designs against TAPI. Embassy
of Turkmenistan must realize the importance and might of media and experts for
safe guarding its vested interests and of course TAPI instead of cashing and
following the ill designs of so called pseudo intellectuals and fake think
tanks which are good for nothing and may be dangerous for soft imaging of its
country and projection of the TAPI in the country.

TAPI is a dream gas pipeline which has come out of the
smog screen. Being a prominent regional expert on Turkmenistan/TAPI it is hoped
that TAPI would revolutionize economies, societies and humanities of all the
participating countries. It would be a giant step towards massive
industrialization in the region. It would start gigantic drive of
diversification in the region. It would be start of a smarter economy.

It will connect Central Asia to South East Asia
through energy corridor of TAPI. The total price of the TAPI has been reduced
to $7 billion from an initial estimate of $10bn, and that its first stage could
cost only $5bn. A final investment decision (FID) is under consideration and
may be finalized in the first half of next year and then, stage by stage,
finalise construction in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. It is hoped that the
first gas may be delivered to Afghanistan within around a year from the FID,
and to Pakistan within two years.