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Vice President Hamid Ansari arrives in Turkmenistan to attend TAPI event

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Ashgabat: Vice President Hamid Ansari arrived here on Friday for a three-day visit to resource-rich Turkmenistan to attend the ground-breaking ceremony of the ambitious USD 7.6 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan- India gas pipeline.

The Vice President will also participate in events marking the 20th anniversary of Turkmenistan’s status of permanent neutrality.

He was received by Governor of Ahal Province Yazmyradov Annageldi upon his arrival here this evening.

Ansari, who is accompanied by Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, will tomorrow attend the events marking the 20th anniversary of Turkmenistan’s status of permanent neutrality.

The Vice President will also address an international conference on policy of neutrality, peace, security and development.

On Sunday morning, Ansari would fly to the ancient city of Mary some 311 km from here, which was part of the old Silk Route, to attend the ground-breaking ceremony of the TAPI pipeline where Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and their host Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow would also be present.

Ansari will also pay homage at the bust of Mahatma Gandhi which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi early this year in the Turkmenistan capital near the holistic health and yoga centre here.

Turkmenistan’s state company Turkmengas will lead the consortium for building the 1800-kilometre-long pipeline carrying gas from the former the Soviet state to energy-hungry India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Turkmengas will be the consortium leader after foreign firms refused to participate in the project. French giant Total SA had initially envisaged interest in leading a consortium of national oil companies of the four nations in the TAPI project.

The TAPI pipeline will have a capacity to carry 90 million standard cubic metres a day (mmscmd) gas for a 30-year period and is targeted to be operational in 2018. India and Pakistan would get 38 mmscmd each, while the remaining 14 mmscmd will be supplied to Afghanistan.

“No timeline is available as of now,” Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs Navtej Sarna said in response to a question on when the project will get operational.

India’s state gas utility “GAIL has signed a Gas Sales and Purchase Agreement (GSPA) with Turkmengas for import of 38 mmscmd of natural gas for 30 years. However, with Afghanistan agreeing to take approx 1.5-4 mmscmd against the original agreed volume of 14 mmscmd, the Indian volumes may increase to 43-44.25 mmscmd,” Petroleum Minister Pradhan had informed Rajya Sabha in a written reply earlier this week.

PTI