Pipelines and Dragons and Bears
New Turkmenistan Pipeline to Shake Up Asian Market

Turkmenistan has floated the notion of constructing a pipeline through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India (hence the TAPI acronym) for decades, but now it says it’s prepared to break ground on the project before year’s end. Reuters has the story:

The TAPI project, supported by the United States and the Asian Development Bank, has been touted by Turkmenistan since the 1990s. But starting work on the pipeline has been delayed because of the problem of crossing Afghanistan.

The pipeline will allow Turkmenistan to find new consumers in Asia and cut its dependence China, which buys 30 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas annually.

Russia, which imported more than 40 bcm of Turkmen gas in 2008, will buy no more than 4 bcm this year. Moscow says the development of gas fields elsewhere has made purchases of Turkmen gas unprofitable. Neighbouring Iran also buys small volumes of Turkmen gas.

Turkmenistan has the world’s fourth-largest reserves of natural gas and has historically relied heavily on its northern neighbor Russia to buy its wares. But over the past seven years, Russia has cut its imports from Turkmenistan by some 75 percent, pushing the central Asian country to look east to China for a buyer. Turkmengaz now sells 30 billion cubic meters of gas to China annually and hopes to double that in the next five years. Turkmenistan sees the TAPI project as a way to keep from repeating the mistake of relying too heavily on exports to one country.

The TAPI project is yet another reminder of how much the world energy picture has changed in the past few years. The natural gas boom is remaking not just America, but the world.

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