Turkmenistan says close to securing TAPI pipeline financing

AVAZA, Turkmenistan, May 23 (Reuters) - Turkmenistan plans to secure within a few months all the necessary funding to complete the construction of an $8 billion natural gas pipeline to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, the project’s chief executive said on Wednesday.

The Central Asian nation is building the TAPI pipeline to diversify its gas exports, which have mostly gone to China.

“We expect the financing to be completed in the third quarter, within the next three-four months,” Muhammetmyrat Amanov, chief executive of TAPI Pipeline company, told an industry conference in the Turkmen resort of Avaza.

He said his company was in talks with several export credit agencies such as Italy’s SACE and France’s Hermes, as well as Greek export credit insurer ECIO.

TAPI hopes to open the pipeline next year, although security risks, including an attack this week by unknown gunmen on TAPI mine-clearance workers in which six were killed, has raised doubts among analysts about whether it will be finished on time.

Amanov did not say how much money TAPI has already raised or mention security issues such as this week’s attack.

TAPI said in a brief statement on Tuesday that work continued on schedule despite the attack. (Reporting by Marat Gurt Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Susan Fenton)