Japan may participate in Trans-Afghani gas pipeline

Japan will consider a possibility of its participation in the construction of the Trans-Afghani gas pipeline, said head of the Japanese delegation, first deputy foreign minister of Japan Seiken Sugiura after talks with Turkmenistan's deputy prime minister Yelly Kubranmurandov, responsible for the fuel and energy issues.

Seiken Sugiura said Japan would consider its participation in the project of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan pipeline, "as soon as its feasibility study is ready", according to the international information department of the Turkmen president's administration. Before the end of March 2003 the Japanese government will send a special delegation to Turkmenistan to discuss specific directions of interaction on this issue.

The head of the delegation, comprising representatives of large companies, said Japan, as well as China, Korea and other South-East Asian countries, intended to diminish its dependence on oil and gas supplies from Persian Gulf countries and considered Turkmenistan a prospective partner.

Turkmenistan, the largest gas producer in the region, is able to develop its export pipeline routes not only in northern, but also in other directions, Sugiura believes.

The project preparation is to be completed by October 2002, when leaders of the three participating states will come to Ashkhabad to sign an agreement on principles of the project's development and forming the future consortium.

The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan pipeline is to transport gas from one of the Turkmen largest deposits, Dovletabad, whose gas reserves are estimated at 1,756,600,000,000 cubic meters, to central Pakistan. Its entire length will amount to 1,500 km, 170 km out of which will be laid on Turkmenistan's territory, 830 km will be built in Afghanistan, and 400 km in Pakistan.

The cost of the project is estimated at $2-2.5 billion.