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Pakistan, Afghanistan to discuss pipeline on Monday
15. January 2006, 10:10

IRNA - Pakistan and Afghanistan will hold ministerial-level talks in Islamabad on Monday about the long-delayed multi-billion dollar Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) gas pipeline project, officials said on Sunday.

Afghan Minister for Mines and Industries Mir Muhammad Sadiq will lead his country's delegation in the talks, a Petroleum Ministry official said.

The dlrs 3.5bn 1,680-kilometer pipeline will transport up to 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually from the Daulatabad fields in South East Turkmenistan to consumers in Afghanistan, Pakistan and possibly India, according to the Asian Development Bank.

The pipeline is to run through Herat and Kandahar in Afghanistan, the Pakistani cities of Quetta and Multan and on to the Indian border town of Fazilka.

Turkmenistan's huge Daulatabad-Donmez field holds more than 2.83 tcm (100 tcf) in gas reserves.

The two ministers will review progress on the project so far and will try to move ahead, the official said.

Although dialogue process on TAP has been slow, analysts are of the view that the project has significant potential for enhancing stability and improving living standards in South and Central Asia.

If successful, it will be a pioneering effort in linking the energy deficit economies of South Asia to the hydrocarbon rich Central Asian countries, they believe.

The pipeline was originally contemplated in the 1990 with the participation of US energy giant Unocal, but those plans were abandoned when the United States fired cruise missiles into Afghanistan in 1998 in pursuit of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

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