ISLAMABAD: Energy-strapped Pakistan on Monday threw in a fresh thrust to accelerate the work on two multi-billion-dollar energy trade projects by engaging Turkmenistan’s visiting officials to hold meetings of their technical working groups this week.
The projects are Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) power transmission line.
TAPI is an 1,840-km long trans-country pipeline project to supply natural gas from Turkmenistan to other three countries. After completion it will deliver up to 33 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year from the Galkynysh and adjacent gas fields in Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India for the next 30 years.
Similarly, TAP project will include the construction of around 500-km long 500 kilovolt transmission line between Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It will transfer up to 4,000 megawatts of power from Turkmenistan into other two countries.
To make progress on these important projects, a visiting high-level delegation of Turkmenistan led by Deputy Foreign Minister Vepa Hajiyev held an extensive meeting with the Pakistani delegation headed by Federal Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar.
They discussed various important aspects of these major projects and stressed the need to expedite them. Azhar stressed for early completion of TAPI project on account of Pakistan’s increasing need for additional supplies of natural gas.
Pakistan agreed to hold the meeting of the technical working group on TAP power transmission line in a week to work around the prefeasibility parameters of the project. Both sides also consented to hold a similar meeting for TAPI project on Tuesday (today) to propose the future roadmap given the changed dynamics of the project.
These projects will give a significant economic boost to the importing countries’ economies owing to their rapidly increasing energy demands. Turkmen economy that is heavily reliant on natural gas sale to Russia, China and Iran. Currently, China is the major buyer of Turkmen gas. Turkmen gas travels through three pipelines via Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to China.
For the last several years, Pakistan has been facing acute energy shortage that is weighing on its economy. The shortage had hit the country’s exports sector, especially textile -the major foreign exchange earner.
Pakistan’s domestic gas production is less than four billion cubic feet per day (bcfd), while demand is around 6.8 bcfd. With fast depleting natural power sources and increasing demand, bridging the demand-supply gap is a challenge for Pakistan. It is estimated that by 2025, the gas demand would reach up to 8 bcfd.
Pakistan is currently meeting one-fourth of its energy demand though importing LNG (liquefied natural gas), which is pegged with the crude price. Since the crude price has gone up to seven-year high, it is also jacking up the importing gas price, mounting pressure on the national kitty.