The Afghan city of Herat will today host the construction launch of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline, a project that will one day transport 33 million cubic meters of petrol a year.
Ex-Soviet Turkmenistan holds the world's fourth-largest natural gas reserves but has been heavily dependent on gas exports to China after Russian Federation cut back gas imports in the past few years.
It was attended by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, India's Minister of State External affairs Mobashar Jawed Akbar, NATO and US Forces Commander Gen. John Nicholson and other high-ranking officials.
"TAPI will lead from a gas pipeline into an energy and communication corridor", Mr Abbasi said, adding that as well as providing energy, the pipeline would underpin development of road, rail and communications networks. "The South Asia is being connected with the Central Asia through Afghanistan after more than a century of separation", Ghani said.
His remark came after Afghanistan on Friday broke ground on a 1,127-mile "peace pipeline", a $22.5 billion natural gas pipeline crossing the country's war-ravaged south.
During his address, the premier appreciated President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamadov for converting a mere gas pipeline project into an energy and communication corridor. The successful accomplishment of the project would help accelerate pace of socio-economic activities in the participating countries besides creating direct and indirect employment opportunities.
Security has been a leading concern leading up to the inauguration as Afghanistan claims to have devised a detailed security plan to protect the pipeline construction as well as the pipeline.
The overall funding picture for the mammoth gas pipeline remains unclear, with energy giants such as France's Total failing to follow up on reported interest in the project. Major portion of the pipeline would pass through southwest Afghanistan which is major bastion of Taliban.
India's Minister of State External Affairs at the event said his country is committed to supporting the project.
The Prime Minister also congratulated the ADB for its role in making the project a reality.