Why Is China Showing Immense Interest in the TAPI Gas Pipeline?

China has shown a keen interest in joining the TAPI gas pipeline as per an official from Pakistan. TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India) gas pipeline is a strategic energy sector link between the involved nations making them self-sufficient for their energy needs. According to an official from Pakistan, Beijing is exploring the feasibilities of building a spur from Pakistan once the TAPI gas pipeline becomes operational.

The TAPI pipeline connecting Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India will originate from the massive Galkynysh gas field in Turkmenistan. The project’s cost has been estimated to be about $9.6 billion and will carry 33 billion cubic metres of gas each year.

Traditionally the natural gas exports from Turkmenistan have been to China. Now, with the TAPI gas pipeline reaching out to Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, Turkmenistan looks to diversify its exports of natural gas. But financial and security concerns have derailed the scheduling of the project. Afghanistan being war-torn has been the main stumbling block to the idea of a stable security network to the TAPI gas pipeline.

The CEO of Inter State Gas Systems which is a state-owned firm in Pakistan told Reuters that China is largely interested to participate in the TAPI pipeline. Building a spur in Pakistan can be an alternative to China’s plans of having a fourth pipeline in place from Turkmenistan.

China is looking to off take this pipeline from Pakistan rather than having another pipeline. It would be much cheaper for China to take the pipeline further from Pakistan rather than making a pipeline cross several nations if started from Turkmenistan.

By September, it is being anticipated that the financial closing of the first phase of the TAPI gas pipeline will begin. The first phase is being funded by the Asian Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank. Once the gas pipeline begins to generate large profits, the funding for the second phase would be raised.

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