Payday nears for Kabul with work on Afghan leg of TAPI due to start in 2018

The  prospect of Afghanistan earning a very welcome $500m a year in transit fees from the transportation of gas across its territories drew one step closer yesterday when the chairman of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline project predicted that work on the Afghan leg of the project would start next year. According to Muhummet Murat Amanov, neighbouring Turkmenistan’s state gas company Turkmengaz has completed its evaluation phase of the project and has now started laying the pipeline in its own territory, and technical assessments in Afghanistan are in the process of being finalised. 
“Currently we are assessing the routes of the gas pipeline including issues related to earthquakes, along with social and environmental impact studies (in Afghanistan). Most of our work needs to be done this year and should be finalized by October or November,” he said.
On completion,  the 1,814-kilometer pipeline will have the capacity  to export up to 33 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year  from Turkmenistan’s  southern gas fields   (and eventually its offshore reserves in the Caspian Sea)   to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Construction began in December  2015. 
As well as generating revenue in its own right, the Afghan authorities are hopeful that the pipeline will act as a spur to private-sector investment. 
“Our [the Afghan] private sector has the capacity to take part in the implementation of the TAPI project, and we ask  that it  should be provided with the opportunity to invest in various areas of the project,” said Khan Jan Alokozai, deputy head of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI).