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Two News Reports on Supposed Oil Pipeline

These Are Supporting Documents for the Article The Great Afghan Oil Pipeline Disaster, at
http://emperors-clothes.com/articles/jared/relief.htm

[Posted 6 March 2003]


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A) Australian Financial Review:
"Pipeline Plan Another Casualty"

B) World Gas Intelligence:
"Gazprom Plans New Turkmenistan Pipe"

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[ www.tenc.net ]

 

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A) "Pipeline Plan Another Casualty"

By Nick Hordern

Australian Financial Review; February 28, 2003 Friday; SECTION: News; International News; Pg. 28; LENGTH: 590 words; Copyright 2003 John Fairfax Publications Pty Ltd
* Posted for educational use only
========================================================

The death of Juma Mohammad Mohammadi, Afghanistan's Minister for Mines and Industries, in a plane crash on Tuesday cast a pall of gloom over TAP, the proposal for a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan.

The light plane carrying Mohammadi and four Afghan officials crashed as it flew from Pakistan's port city of Karachi to south-western Baluchistan province, where he was to inspect mining projects.

Mohammadi's death was one more bad augury for TAP.


He had been in Pakistan for last weekend's meeting between the three countries in Islamabad.

After the meeting, the three invited India to participate in the $US3.2 billion ($5.3 billion) project as a customer for Turkmen gas.

"Since the viability of the project depends upon the extension of the pipeline to India, it was agreed to formally forward the documents of the TAP to the government of India, inviting them to join the project," a joint communique said.


On the face of it, Indian involvement in TAP makes sense for all four countries.

Although it has the world's fourth-largest gas reserves, Turkmenistan is dependent on customers in the former Soviet Union and is seeking other markets.

After 24 years of war, Afghanistan's economy is in ruins and Kabul is in dire need of the sort of revenue TAP would generate.

Pakistan has no urgent need to import gas, but its own reserves will not last for ever.

And Islamabad is keen to build economic links with Afghanistan and the 'Stans the five former Soviet Muslim republics of Central Asia.

India's demand for gas is expanding at 6 per cent a year and cannot be supplied from domestic reserves. India suffers from horrific pollution, so has an environmental imperative: gas is a cleaner fuel than the coal that provides the bulk of India's power.

Despite these common interests, TAP is unlikely to proceed because India will not countenance the use of energy piped across the territory of arch-enemy Pakistan.

Twice in the past 15 months, Delhi and Islamabad have been on the brink of war over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

The problem is not that India is opposed to closer economic ties with Afghanistan and the other states of Central Asia.

Tomorrow, for example, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is due in New Delhi to sign an agreement with India that will slash tariffs in bilateral trade.

And Delhi is urging Tehran to improve road links between Central Asia and the Iranian port of Chah Bahr, to boost seaborne trade with India and so avoid Pakistan.

But the likelihood that Delhi will reject TAP can be inferred from its plans to buy Iranian gas.

India has been considering a pipeline from Iran's South Pars gas field since 1994.

The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on the purchase of gas during last month's visit to Delhi by Iran's President Mohammad Khatami.

"In view of huge reserves of energy in Iran and [the] increasing requirement of India [for] energy, the two nations are natural partners," Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said at the time.

But India will not take the simple option of piping Pars gas across Pakistan.

"We have not spoken to Pakistan on this and we are not going to talk to them," India's Petroleum Minister, Ram Naik, said last week.

Instead, India intends to pursue the more expensive and technically challenging option of an undersea pipeline.

This is a striking demonstration of the cost of the Kashmir dispute not just to India and Pakistan but to other countries in the region.

***

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B) Gazprom Plans New Turkmenistan Pipe

World Gas Intelligence; February 28, 2003; SECTION: WHAT'S NEW
LENGTH: 627 words; Copyright 2003 Energy Intelligence Group, Inc.

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As part of a campaign to pull Turkmen gas back into the supply-short Russian system after years of excluding the Central Asian producer, Gazprom is trumpeting a plan to build a new 700 kilometer, 30 billion-40 billon cubic meter per year pipeline to carry the volumes that the Russian gas company aims to purchase from Turkmenistan beginning in 2007.

This would provide an alternative to the proposed but problem-ridden scheme to build a 1,400 km gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan and perhaps on to India (WGI Jan.8,p5).

The Gazprom-proposed line would run from the gas fields to Turkmenistan's border with Kazakhstan, bypassing Uzbekistan, and then on to the Kazakh-Russian border -- potentially providing another outlet for Kazakh gas on top of the planned Shah Deniz pipeline to Turkey (p1).

Although the system would cost each partner an estimated $1 billion even if it is split 50-50, Turkmenistan would prefer to build the stretch to the Kazakh border without Gazprom's assistance, in order to keep full control over the transport infrastructure on its territory. Gazprom says that it is ready to help in building the entire line, but given the Turkmen position, its participation would probably be limited to the segment running from Kazakhstan to the Russian border. Before the pipeline can progress, however, Gazprom and Turkmenistan must firm up an intergovernmental agreement initialed by Moscow with Turkmenistan last September, which calls for the delivery of 10 Bcm/yr (967 million cubic feet per day) of Turkmen gas to Russia beginning in 2005, with volumes rising to 20 Bcm/yr in 2008-20 (WGI Dec.4,p4).

Turkmenneftegas and Gazprom were expected to sign a 15-year contract by the end of 2002, but have yet to do so. Gazprom officials now say that a final agreement on this and the pipeline is expected in the first half of this year, allowing for completion of the pipeline by 2007.

Currently, Gazprom is in intensive dialogue with Ashkhabad, arguing that the new gas pipeline would allow Turkmenistan to increase its gas shipments to Europe. The Russian company says that, in return, it wants guarantees on gas volumes that Turkmenistan would be able to pump via Russia's territory. This would allow Gazprom to benefit from gas transportation tariffs, as well as to fulfill its export and domestic gas contracts, possibly under some arrangement similar to that by which Gazprom handles sales of Kazak gas on the UK and continental North European spot markets (WGI Feb.26,p6).

A deal with Turkmenistan would also allow Gazprom to cut gas production costs, since Turkmenistan offers more favorable tax terms than Russia.

Separately, Gazprom plans to increase shipments to a growing market in southern Europe and is pressing ahead with expansion of its presence in Bulgaria, a strategically important transit hub. Following a preliminary accord in February, Gazprom Chief Executive Alexei Miller and Bulgarian Minister of Energy and Energy Resources Milko Kovachev on Mar. 2 signed a memorandum on expanding Bulgarian-Russian cooperation in gas supplies and transit, during a visit to Sofia by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The parties agreed to extend for another 10-15 years the contract on gas transportation via Bulgaria to Turkey and Southern Europe, as well as to improve the terms and conditions. Putin says that Russia is ready to increase its gas shipments to the Balkans to 18 Bcm/yr from 12 Bcm/yr currently.

The parties also agreed to prepare proposals for expanding gas transportation facilities inside Bulgaria and building new ones by the end of 2003. Gazprom is expected to invest $50 million in the effort, with the Russian government providing another $150 million.

***

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