The War in Afghanistan and the Begining of the Construction of TAPI Pipeline

As you can read at the following Natural Gas Asia article, India, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan agreed that TurkmenGas, the state owned gas company of Turkmenistan, will be the leader, and largest shareholder, of the consortium formed by the four countries for the development of the TAPI pipeline (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India). The consortium will only develop and manage the pipeline, and not the natural gas fields that will supply it.

The pipeline will be mainly supplied by the Galkynysh gas field of Turkmenistan. Galkynysh holds approximately 26 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, and it is the second largest gas field in the world. South Pars/North fields is the largest, and it is located in the Persian Gulf, shared by Qatar and Iran (see following map). As you can read in the article, Turkmenistan is discussing with the largest Japanese companies the join development of Galkynysh.

After the nuclear accident of Fukushima in 2011, Japan became the largest importer of natural gas in the world. Japan is one of the largest industrial countries in the world, and the third-largest economy. The problem is that Japan is very poor in oil and natural gas, and the price she pays for oil and gas directly affect the Japanese cost of production, the competitiveness of the Japanese economy, and the prices at which Japanese products are sold in international markets.

Moreover, If TAPI is at some point constructed, a twin pipeline could also be constructed, which would carry the oil of Kazakhstan to India and the Indian Ocean. TAPI is supported by the United States. TAPI is not a problem for Russia since Russia mainly sells oil and gas to Europe. The construction of TAPI is not an ideal situation for China because presently it is China that mainly absorbs the natural gas of Turkmenistan, with pipelines that China herself constructed. It would not be a good thing for China if the Turkmen gas found its way to  India, a main Chinese competitor. However China wants peace in Central Asia because China is promoting the New Silk Roads. The New Silk Roads are huge infrastructure networks.

Through these networks China will import raw materials from around the globe, and also export her manufactured goods. Central Asia plays a central role in the New Silk Roads, and therefore China wants peace in this region, which means that the Chinese interests are more aligned with the Indian and the American ones, rather than with the Arab and the Iranian ones. The Arabs of the Persian Gulf and the Iranians will be seriously hurt if the oil and gas of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan find their way to India and the Indian Ocean because they mainly sell oil and gas to Asia.

The Arabs of the Persian Gulf and the Iranians support various Islamist terrorist groups in Afghanistan, hoping to prevent competing pipelines from reaching Pakistan, India and the Indian Ocean. Pakistan on the other hand, that used to support terrorist groups in Afghanistan too, will benefit from the TAPI pipeline because for Pakistan it will be one more source of energy, it will generate transit fees for the country, and it will bring to Pakistan billions in investment. The total cost of TAPI is estimated at 10 billion dollars. Pakistan also wants peace in Afghanistan, because Pakistan is the country that will be most benefited by the New Silk Roads projects of this region (see China-Pakistan Economic Corridor CPEC).

Construction of TAPI is expected to begin in December 2015, unless of course it is stopped by a new wave of terrorism. In Europe we mainly talk about Syria and Ukraine, but there is also the energy war of Afghanistan. The good thing is that more or less USA, Russia and China seem to be on the same side in Afghanistan. Each one of them for very different reasons of course.

The following map shows the oil fields (black) and the gas fields (red) of the region.

Map of Oil and Gas Fields of the Middle East

For the article see

“Turkmenistan to Work With Japan to Further Develop Galkynysh”, October 2015

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