TAPI and IP: Roadway to A Promising Prosperous Future

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Comparative Analysis of TAPI and IP Pipelines

Sarah Sajid
Research Analyst on International Affairs

Natural gas is hemispheric. I like to call it hemispheric in nature because it is a product that we can find in our neighborhoods." George W. Bush

We live in a world, where there is an elevated demand for energy which is related to the high level of consumption. Keeping this fact under consideration, talking about our very own region, due to population explosion, which we experienced within last few decades, the growing consumption of energy has raised its demand. Such vogue has put different developing states under the question of how to overcome this issue?

There are different types of resources for this purpose, which can be discussed under two categories: 1. Renewable and 2. Non renewable resources. The former one deals with all those resources which can be reused for the purpose of energy production, such as solar, hydral, wind energy, and... and latter one revolves around all those elements, which can only be used at one time, including petroleum, gas, coal, and crude oil. The extensive demand had led people to think over shifting more on renewable rather than non renewable resources for the production of energy. A substantial source for fulfilling the energy requirements is petroleum. Certain factors like high reliance of developed states upon it and its cost has made the developing chunk of the international community to shift to non renewable resources, mostly on gas (as hydro power possess controversies related to state's claim over territorial water usage and it is not an option for land locked states like Central Asian States) for coming up with energy demand issues. So the only option which states have to feed their large population with is heavily connected to the production of energy through gas.

Basically the price comparison has been made between the cost of natural gas (priced in dollars per million BTUs) and oil (priced in dollars per barrel) .The comparative studies has been summarised in the chart well, which certainly depicts gas, as a cheap source of producing energy. The trend has encouraged the states like Pakistan, Iran, India, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, especially covering the region of Asia and Middle East, to bound themselves in certain agreements, like IP (Iran –Pakistan Pipeline) and TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India). 

Before discussing the economic opportunities, an overview of these projects is required to be discussed briefly. IP pipeline, also known as “Peace Pipeline", is a project of gas pipeline, from Iran to Pakistan, having length of 2,775km; whereas TAPI serves for the same purpose, having length of 1,814 km. The state owned Iranian Press TV had raised a question over the ongoing project of IP pipeline. Pakistan’s new government had been under pressure from Saudi Arabia and US, to back out of this project. Chances of abandoning this project were high because it was an evident fact that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan's new government shared amicable relations with each other. Over a visit of Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, to Iran on May 2013 a silent message was given by former Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad, that Pakistan should not absorb any external pressure which could influence their relationship with each other, in terms of IP gas pipeline project. At first, India was also a part of this deal till 2009, then due to certain reasons related to the border security issues, her new nuclear deal with USA and also intention and interest of China to join this project had curtailed India to take any participation in this project. 

Further, the project was inaugurated between Pakistan and Iran, in 2013. Now the question emerges that which project will be more economically conducive? and what future implications do we see in future of these two project keeping in view relationship of two neighboring states. Like every project, the execution of TAPI and IP are facing problems. Considering the TAPI's project, it is clear that Turkmenistan is already having similar commitments to China and Iran, now the question upon Turkmenistan's dedication regarding to provision of gas under the auspicious of TAPI project remains viable.

To overcome the security factor, Afghanistan has deployed around 7,000 soldiers to ensure a promotion of safe project. Such projects supplement with myriads of positive aspects.

Firstly, these projects bind the states together in a relationship based upon cooperation and coordination with one another. Certainly such techniques reduce the chances of crisis like situation. Similarly, if we talk about Iran and Pakistan, such decisive chances can't be taken by any of them because this would eventually distort the proceeding process. Secondly, if this project works out, the hunger for energy would be fulfilled in an economical way. This will encourage these states to save money for other projects, which are essential to their economic growth and development. Another reality check related to Afghanistan’s security is an undeniable fact that can only be dealt with proper execution of TAPI'S project, as this project will brought certain economic opulence in the state, enabling her to get independence from foreign influence. Moreover, according to Washington's declaratory stance, the project of TAPI will become a cause of development for CARS (Central Asian Republic States) empowering them to earn 300 million per annum, in transit fee.This trend will also discourage their high reliance on Russian markets. Furthermore, both of these projects will manifest the endeavor of bringing two rivals (India and Pakistan) together.

The next main question revolves around the area of feasibility of IP and TAPI. Shedding light over these projects, TAPI is said to be more costly as its estimated price was 7.6bn at first which was raised up to 10bn. TAPI leads towards the apprehensive approach of international community that this would attract the giant companies towards the enriched area of Turkmenistan. Whereas, IP is considered to be an option towards stability not only in Baluchistan but also between the borders of Pakistan and Iran. Moreover, the IP pipeline will certainly overcome the energy crisis in Pakistan within a short time span of 3,5 years. Both of these pipeline projects differ in capacity to deliver gas. Talking about volume of TAPI it will have 33bn cubic meter whereas IP Initial capacity was to be 22bn cubic meters which has later been extended to 55bn cubic meter.   

In an international and regional politics, the high dependence and reliance of states, upon each other, via such pacts and agreements is a new method of conflict resolution, as initiation of such agreements knits the states together in a relationship of mutual cooperation and coordination, while pursuing their interests. In case of Pakistan and India, which two in past had experienced horrendous outcome of wars and still possess an element of unpredictability, can better be dealt with the advancement of TAPI and IP pipeline project. Similarly, Pak- Iran border unrest can also be amicably dealt with engaging these states in an agreement. Further, such projects are promising in nature to fulfill the demand of large population, and bridging a strong relationship between general public and ruling authorities, minimizing the chances of any kind of inconvenience in form of civil thrive. So long and short, IP and TAPI have less negative points as compared to positive, which vows the promotion of peace and prosperity, not all over the region but also to the whole world.

More By Sarah Sajid:

*Issue of Pakistan-Iran Cross Border Terrorism, and its Future Remedies:

*Pakistan: Establishing Balance between Iran and Saudi Arabia:

*These views represent those of the author and are not necessarily Iran Review's viewpoints.

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