By Dr. Reza Yeganehshakib, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.
Last month, Turkmenistan began construction of an ambitious $7.6 billion pipeline to export natural gas to India via Afghanistan and Pakistan. The project, known as TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India), will supply 33 million cubic meters of gas per day to India through a 1,814-kilometer (1,127-mile) pipeline. If finished on schedule, it is slated to become operational by the end of 2019.
Some energy analysts see the long-delayed launch of TAPI as the death knell to the stalled Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) project, which — similar to TAPI — has seen years of planning and negotiations and was supposed to supply India with almost the same amount of natural gas per year.
Despite the failure of IPI, Iran’s ambition to export natural gas to the Indian subcontinent is alive and well. Indeed, in the same week that Turkmenistan announced the start of TAPI’s construction, Indian and Iranian officials resumed serious negotiations to jumpstart a giant project to export Iranian natural gas to Oman and India via an undersea pipeline. This development has been preceded by months of increasingly intense discussions.
In August, the chairman of the Confederation of India Industry’s northern region, Shreekant Somany, at a joint meeting with the Oman Chamber of Commerce, said that the undersea project with the Iranians should be expedited. Then, in November, the head of the National Iranian Gas Export Company, Alireza Kameli, told Iranian media that Tehran is in serious negotiations with New Delhi to construct such an Iran-India pipeline.