Over at The Diplomat, I wrote a bit about the new momentum the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline has seen - and whether or not the moves actually matter:
Recent moves, however, have given TAPI a sudden burst of momentum. First, the four countries, with the Asia Development Bank as transaction advisor, set up a new company this month to “build, own, and operate” the 1,800 km pipeline. Registered in the Isle of Man, the TAPI Pipeline Company Limited will see Turkmengaz, Afghan Gas Enterprise, Inter State Gas Systems (Private) Limited, and GAIL (India) Limited with equal shares. Second, a flurry of recent high-level meetings have resulted in a handful of commitments. According to Pakistan’s Business Recorder, the four countries agreed to begin constructing the pipeline by 2016, with completion by the end of 2018 – and that “all the pending issues will be addressed” by next February. Moreover, Pakistan’s Customs Today reports that “potential partners” will be selected by the February deadline.
No energy majors have yet signed up for the pipeline, though the field appears to be narrowing. ExxonMobil and Chevron recently pulled back from the project, rebuffed following their demands for shareholdings in the Turkmenistan gas fields supplying the pipeline. As a result, France’s Total and Malaysia’s Petronas have suddenly appeared as frontrunners. Uzbekistan, likewise, has expressed interest in joining the pipeline – though Tashkent’s involvement remains relegated to rhetoric at this point.