Pakistan, Turkmenistan discuss gas pipeline

Pakistani ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf met with Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov in Ashgabat last month to discuss proposals for a gas pipeline between the two countries. The proposed 1,600-km line from the Dauletabad fields in the south of Turkmenistan to the central Pakistani city of Multan is considered a key future outlet for the Central Asian republic's gas reserves. The two countries hope to involve Iran in the project.


MOSCOW�Pakistani ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf met with Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov in Ashgabat last month to discuss proposals for a gas pipeline between the two countries. The proposed 1,600-km line would extend from the Dauletabad fields in the south of Turkmenistan to the central Pakistani city of Multan.

The pipeline is considered a key future outlet for the Central Asian republic's gas reserves, especially in light of the increasing precariousness of plans for the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline (TCGP), which would ship Turkmen gas to Turkey via Azerbaijan and Georgia (OGJ Online, June 5, 2000). The two countries hope to involve Iran in the project.

Niyazov told reporters in Ashgabat that the talks with Musharraf covered construction of a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Iran and Afghanistan. The route seems no less rife with political conflict as than the TCGP route, however.

The two governments will continue talks with Iranian and Afghan leaders, he added. The next meeting of the Economic Cooperation Organization will hear a joint statement from the two countries calling for foreign companies' involvement in the project, Niyazov said.

Other regional pipelines
Musharraf will sign an agreement for construction of a gas pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan when he visits Iran to attend the Economic Cooperation Organization summit in June, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources cited by Islamabad's The News. The on again-off again project could earn Pakistan more than $500 million in transit fees, but the exact figures have not been decided yet.

According to the Pakistani daily, Tehran has been insisting that, once the project is started, there should be a guarantee that it would not be abandoned. Pakistan would be allowed to import gas through the pipeline as needed.

The point may be moot, however, as India appears unwilling to give the proposal serious consideration (OGJ Online, May 12, 2000).

Meanwhile, there may be some changes afoot regarding a gas pipeline from Iran to Armenia. Construction of the pipeline has been delayed because of budgetary shortfalls for the $120 million project. Armenian Energy Minister David Zadoyan, however, said that energy officials from Armenia, Iran, and Greece met May 26 to discuss the measure.

According to Zadoyan, "This is a key priority for our country because, as you know, the only pipeline crossing into Armenia passes through Georgia. In case it is blown up, we'll be in trouble, as we were in the past. This is why the Iran-Armenia pipeline is so important."

Russia's Gazprom is involved in the project, and the head of Mitsubishi Corp.'s Moscow office, Hiroshi Kawaishi, visited Yerevan recently to investigate funding, according to local press reports.

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