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Oil ministry seeks assurance on gas supply from Turkmenistan

A 1,800-km pipeline being set up to export up to 33 bn cubic meters of natural gas a year from resource-rich Turkmenistan to India

Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who is on a three-day visit to Turkmenistan, sought assurance of gas supply from the Central Asian nation's President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedov.

The meeting between the two in Ashgabat comes amid revival of talks to set up the much-delayed TAPI gas pipeline project.

As part ofthe project, a 1,800-km pipeline is being set up to export up to 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas a year from resource-rich Turkmenistan to India via Afghanistan and Pakistan over 30 years.

"The minister reiterated India's commitment to source natural gas from Turkmenistan through TAPI project and sought assistance of Turkmenistan forresolving the remaining issues for smooth commissioning of the pipeline," the petroleum ministry said in a statement.

Pradhan also stressed upon expanding energy cooperationbeyond TAPI into other upstream, midstream and downstream activities including fertiliser and petrochemical projects. He said Indian public and private sectorcompanies can participate in Turkmenistan in "mutually beneficial projects".

The Minister is accompanied by a delegation including Chiefs of GAIL (India), ONGC Videsh Ltd and senior officials of the ministries of petroleum and external affairs.

India had last week set up a company jointlywith Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan which will commission the ambitious TAPI pipeline project.

The company was floated with equal stakes held by thestate-owned gas companies of the four nations - Turkmengas, Afghan GasEnterprise, Inter-State Gas Systems and GAIL (India) Ltd.

Turkmenistanhas the world's fourth-largest proven gas reserves and the pipeline will allowthe land-locked country to diversify its gas export markets to the southeast.

Turkmen gas, in turn, will provide a key source of fuel for southernAfghanistan, Pakistan, and northern India.

Pradhan hasalso held a meeting with Turkmenistan's Deputy Prime Minister in charge ofpetroleum Hojamuhammodov in Ashgabat where he pressed for early completionof the pipeline.

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