Energy ministers from the four countries involved in the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline decided to invite a "global energy giant" to bid on implementation of the project, the Hindu Times and other India media reported this week. Turkmenistan has been aggressively pursuing its neighbors in recent months to close the deal on the pipeline to run from the Dovletabad gas fields in the southeast of Turkmenistan through volatile territory in Taliban-held regions in Afghanistan and Balochistan in Pakistan to India. Analysts have speculated that Turkmenistan has been driven by a need to find new customers to pay for its gas, to make up for a sharp reduction in purchases by Russia's Gazprom.
Indian officials told India Times that the decision was made to place a bid for TAPI after Afghanistan and Pakistan promised to secure the pipeline through their territories. At a press conference in Kabul, the Afghan minister for mining and mineral industry said his government plans to build the pipe underground and also pay local communities to secure it, RIA Novosti reported. A meeting to finalize TAPI will be convened by Pakistan in December or January 2011.
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Catherine A. Fitzpatrick compiles the Turkmenistan weekly roundup for EurasiaNet. She is also editor of EurasiaNet's Sifting the Karakum blog. To subscribe to the weekly email, write email@example.com