Total Seeks Lead Role in TAPI

Total Seeks Lead Role in TAPITotal Seeks Lead Role in TAPI

French firm Total is working behind the scenes to take the lead on an ambitious pipeline connecting Central and South Asia, pioneering a novel gas exchange mechanism to overcome legal hurdles.

According to AFP, it is one of the most ambitious energy projects in the world, a 1,800 kilometre (1,100 mile) pipeline connecting Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India, called TAPI.

Last year, sources close to the project had indicated US giants ExxonMobil and Chevron were interested in leading the $7.5 billion project. Since then, new players have announced their interest.

“Other companies, including Total are now in the race and they are actively negotiating with Turkmenistan,” said Mobin Saulat, director of the Pakistan’s Inter State Gas System which is charge of the Pakistani part of the pipeline. He also named UAE’s Dragon Oil as a contender.

Chevron and ExxonMobil are trying to convince Turkmenistan to cede control of some of its gas fields, so far without success since Turkmenistan law forbids handing over onshore assets to foreign companies.

To work around the problem, TAPI partners envisage an exchange system: Companies controlling gas reserves in the Caspian Sea will pump in an equal amount of gas to Turkmen territory to that which they want to export from the country, allowing them to abide by local law.

On the subject of the proposed exchange, Werner Liepach, Pakistan director of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said: “We looked at various options on how to make that happen, so that is certainly one option.”

“(You) give the volume back to Turkmenistan in that area and instead they will get the volume from where our pipeline will start,” Saulat explained.