Eurasian Energy Futures Initiative Nonresident Senior Fellow Micha’el Tanchum writes for The Diplomat on Turkmenistan’s hopes to outpace post-sanctions Iran by pushing forward with the TAPI natural gas pipeline:
As the United States Congress prepares to deliberate on the agreement reached between Iran and the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) over Iran’s nuclear program, a small flurry of statements were released in mid-September announcing that construction on the long-stalled Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline would commence in December 2015. The deal between Iran and the P5+1, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, will remove international economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for Tehran freezing most of Iran’s nuclear program. Facing the impending prospect of competition from Iran’s unfettered participation in global natural gas markets, Turkmenistan has adopted a new policy orientation to expedite TAPI’s construction.
The TAPI pipeline is slated to transport 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas from Turkmenistan’s massive Galkynysh field to neighboring South Asia, bringing some stability to energy-starved Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as helping to meet the Indian economy’s own rising demand. TAPI will provide Afghanistan with 14 million standard cubic meters a day (mmscmd) of natural gas, while India and Pakistan will each receive 38 mmscmd. However, the $10 billion “Peace Pipeline” designed to promote regional cooperation will have to traverse a dangerous route before reaching India, passing through Afghanistan’s Kandahar province and the neighboring Quetta region of Pakistan, traditionally the heartland of Taliban militancy.