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Turkmenistan Begins Exporting Gas to Pakistan via Afghanistan

By Aygerim Sarymbetova May 2, 2023

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In the first stage, 50 gas tankers were transferred from Turkmenistan via Afghanistan to Pakistan. / Ariana News

Turkmenistan has started exporting liquefied gas to Pakistan through Afghanistan’s Kandahar for the first time.

“Truckloads of liquefied gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan through Afghanistan was an important step towards the economic development of the country,” the head of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment, Mohammad Yunus Mohmand, said in an official ceremony that took place in Shurandum, Kandahar, on April 30, according to The Kabul Times.

He further explained that gas was previously transferred to Pakistan through Iran, but “with the resumption of power by the Islamic Emirate,” Afghanistan has become a safe transit option, allowing for large-scale exports in this direction.

Yasser Basir, an international firm, has commenced the natural gas export, which included 50 tankers of gas — each carrying 30 tonnes of gas — that arrived in Kandahar from Turkmenistan and were sent to Pakistan through the Spin Boldak land port.

“This year, our exports are approximately $1,868 million, which shows a significant increase. I sincerely thank the leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Amirul Momineen Sheikh Hebatullah Akhundzadah, who made the environment favorable for all businessmen and investors and considers them the economic army of Afghanistan,” Mohmand said, according to a report by Ariana News.

According to Kandahar Customs officials, Afghanistan has seen a significant increase in cargo shipments to Central Asia in the past year. In 2021, a total of 22,891 cargo containers were sent to Central Asian countries through Afghanistan. This number rose to 53,679 consignments in the following year, 2022.

While the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project remains stalled, the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce has confirmed the successful export of Turkmen gas from Afghanistan to Pakistan via truck. The TAPI pipeline, once completed, aims to connect Turkmenistan, Pakistan, and India via Afghanistan. The project, spanning 1,830 kilometers, is expected to deliver 33 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually from Galkynysh, the world’s second-largest gas field, and terminate in the Indian city of Fazilka near the Pakistan border.

At the International Forum for Investment in the Turkmen Energy Sector held in Dubai on April 25, Batyr Amanov, the Chairman of Turkmenistan’s state-owned company Turkmengaz, referred to the third stage of development of the Galkynysh field, saying that gas from the field would be supplied through the TAPI gas pipeline. Turkmengaz presented a project consisting of seven stages of development and exploitation of the Galkynysh field.

The Afghan segment of the pipeline will stretch from the northwest border with Turkmenistan southward through the western city of Herat and on to Kandahar near the border with Pakistan. The Taliban administration has pledged its support for the project, considering it a vital component of the nation’s future economic infrastructure, despite its initiation in Afghanistan in 2018 while the Taliban was fighting the Western-backed government in Kabul.

Afghanistan, which has consistently struggled with energy shortages, is expected to consume 5 percent of the gas itself, while the remainder will be split equally between Pakistan and India. Furthermore, Kabul could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in transit fees through this arrangement.