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Turkmen gas will reach Indian Ocean
"Izvestia" daily - about perspectives of laying pipeline via Afghanistan

Agreement on construction of the largest in the region gas main, which will unite the Turkmen Daulerabad deposit with the Pakistani Port Gvadar, which is built ton the coast of the Indian Ocean. If this ambitious project is realized, Turkmenistan, which is exporting gas via the Russian territory only will have an alternative route.

The head of Afghan Administration Hamid Karzai, Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf and president of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov signed the document. A 1500 kilometers long gas main with the capacity at 30 billion cubic meters annually and cost at USD 2 billion will be laid from Dauletabad via Afghan Great and Pakistani Multan to Gvadar. From Gvadar the Turkmen gas will be sent to the states of the Persian Gulf by tankers. The Chinese engineers assist in construction.

Yet there is no information on who will build this giant pipeline. Most likely that Sentgas consortium, which by the end of 1990 was almost to start the works. Then the military actions in Afghanistan and sanction introduced by the US against Taliban stopped the process. Under the data of Izvestia daily Ashkhabad has offered the Russian gasmen to take part in this project, however still positive answer is not received.

"Earlier there was a joint venture of Gazprom and Yunokal," a Gazprom representative informed Izvestiya. "However later we refused from participation in this project because of economic inexpediency and high risk: the gas main passes on the territory of two states where local conflicts periodically appear. The situation is still unstable there.

Still this project is very risky one. Even if normal annual financing is provided the implementation of this project may be delayed for years. Sentgas company (Central Aysha Gas Pipeline) was founded in 1997. The main role for this consortium was played by the American Yunokal Central Aysha" and Delta pipeline Saudi power company, which yet in 1995 signed agreement with Ashkhabad on construction of "transafghan pipeline". The US Administration both officially and unofficially cooperated with taliban regime and Trukmenbashi for implementation of this project.
America's counted on Taliban - the pipe could be laid via Afghanistan. It was Taliban which should be provide stability.

Yunokal has organized a technical college in Kandagar, where the first brigades of Afghan engineers and workers were trained. The State Department and the President Clinton supported this project. However, later hunting for bin Laden has become the main mission of Washington DC, leaving behind profit that may be received from construction of the gas main. However, after the victory over Taliban regime, the hopes of Yunokal heads for participation in the project were resumed.

"This project is being prepared long before," expert on the Central Asia Alexander Sobianin said. "From the very time when it become clear that the Transcaspian project will not be constructed, American's start paying more attention to the East. Under the energy program of the USA the American Army must provide security of the pipelines. Thus, this project is undoubtedly an American one."

Izvestiya, June 1, 2002.

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Natalia BABASIAN, Vladimir DUNAYEV

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