14, Pakistan and Turkmenistan signed an agreement to build the
$7.6 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline
project under which Pakistan
will get 1.3 billion cubic feet per day of gas. The agreement was signed during
a visit by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov of Turkmenistan
trans-Afghanistan pipeline, first proposed in early 1990s, will transport
Caspian Sea natural gas from Turkmenistan
through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India.
proposed project, the 1,680 kilometre-long gas pipeline, backed by the Asian
Development Bank, will bring 3.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day
(bcfd) from Turkmenistan's
gas fields to Multan and end at the northwestern
Indian town of Fazilka.
Under the agreement, Afghanistan's
share will be 500 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd), Pakistan's share will be 1,325 mmcfd and India's
original project started on 15 March 1995 when an inaugural memorandum of
understanding between the governments of Turkmenistan
for a pipeline project was signed. This project was promoted by Argentinian
company Bridas Corporation.
company Unocal, in conjunction with the Saudi oil company Delta, promoted
alternative project without Bridas' involvement. In 1995, Unocal signed an $8 billion
deal with Turkmenistan to
construct two pipelines (one for oil, one for gas), as part of a larger plan
for two pipelines intended to transport oil and gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan
and into Pakistan.
In August 1996, the Central Asia Gas Pipeline, Ltd. (CentGas) consortium for
construction of a pipeline, led by Unocal, was formed.
pipeline was to pass through Afghanistan,
it was necessary to work with the Taliban. In January 1998, the Taliban regime,
selected CentGas over Argentinian competitor Bridas Corporation, and signed an
agreement that allowed the proposed project to proceed.
representatives of the Taliban are invited to the Texas headquarters of Unocal to negotiate
their support for the pipeline. Future President George W. Bush is Governor of
Texas at the time. The Taliban appear to agree to a $2 billion pipeline deal,
but will do the deal only if the US officially recognizes the
Taliban regime. The Taliban meet with US officials. According to the Daily
Telegraph, "the US
government, which in the past has branded the Taliban's policies against women
and children "despicable,' appears anxious to please the fundamentalists to
clinch the lucrative pipeline contract."
reported that the Taliban met with Enron officials while in Texas. Enron, headquartered in Texas, had a large
financial interest in the pipeline at the time.
17, 1998, Bill Richardson, the US
Ambassador to the UN, meets Taliban officials in Kabul. (All such meetings were illegal, because
the US still officially
recognizes the government the Taliban ousted as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan.)
US officials at the time call the oil and gas pipeline project a "fabulous
opportunity" and are especially motivated by the "prospect of circumventing Iran, which
offers another route for the pipeline." [Boston
5, 1998, Unocal announces it is withdrawing from the CentGas pipeline
consortium, and closing three of its four offices in Central
Asia. President Clinton refuses to extend diplomatic recognition
to the Taliban, making business there legally problematic.
Interestingly, the 9/11 Commission later concludes that some State Department diplomats are willing to "give the Taliban a chance" because it might be able to bring stability to Afghanistan, which would allow a Unocal oil pipeline to be built through the country. [9/11 Commission, 3/24/2004]
project was revived less than one month after the 9/11 attacks when US
Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin meets (Oct 9, 2001) with the Pakistani oil minister
to brief on the gas pipeline project from Turkmenistan, across Afghanistan, to
Pakistan, which appears to be revived "in view of recent geopolitical
developments." [Frontier Post -- 10/10/2011]
On May 30,
2002, Afghanistan's interim
leader, Hamid Karzai (who formerly worked for Unocal), Turkmenistan's President Niyazov, and Pakistani
President General Musharraf meet in Islamabad
to sign a memorandum of understanding on the trans-Afghanistan gas pipeline
consistent with the US
declared policy of linking Central and South Asia
and diversifying export routes for Turkmen gas.
proposed 1,680 kilometres pipeline could carry one trillion cubic metres of
Turkmen gas over a 30-year period, according to Turkmen Oil and Gas Minister
Bayramgeldy Nedirov. But the route, particularly the 735 kilometres Afghan leg,
presents significant security challenges.
2009, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, then NATO Secretary General, said, "Protecting
pipelines is first and foremost a national responsibility. And it should stay
like that. NATO is not in the business of protecting pipelines. But when
there's a crisis, or if a certain nation asks for assistance, NATO could, I
think, be instrumental in protecting pipelines on land." These comments suggest
that NATO troops could be called upon to assist Afghanistan in protecting the
pipeline. Since pipelines last 50 years or more, this could auger a very long
commitment in Afghanistan.
[Journal of Energy Security, March 23, 2010]
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