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Tapi gas pipeline to move forward after decades of delays

Workers stand near a gas pipe during the launching ceremony of construction work of the TAPI project on the Afghan section of a natural gas pipeline that will link Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India, near the town of Serhetabat, Turkmenistan February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Marat Gurt/Files

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - The TAPI pipeline project to supply Turkmenistan’s gas to India and Pakistan via Afghanistan is moving closer to securing funding and a final investment decision could be made next year, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

The development, a key step forward for the project after decades of delays, could see the new pipeline link the energy-rich central Asian nation to some of the strongest growth markets in the region.

Muhammetmyrat Amanov, chief executive of the TAPI Pipeline company, told an industry conference in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi that the cost of the pipeline had been reduced to $7 billion from an initial estimate of $10 billion, and that its first stage could cost only $5 billion.

“We are planning to make a final investment decision (FID) in the first half of next year and then, stage by stage, finalise construction in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India,” he said.

The first gas could be delivered to Afghanistan within around a year from the FID, and to Pakistan within two years, he said.

The project has been supported by import/export credit agencies in Germany and Italy, he said, which will fund exports of equipment for the project from those countries.

Other potential financiers for the deal include the Asian Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank, he added.

Reporting By Maha El Dahan and Nafisa Eltahir; Editing by David Evans and Jan Harvey