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Expert opinion: What are the benefits for Saudi Arabia from involvement in TAPI?

Expert opinion: What are the benefits for Saudi Arabia from involvement in TAPI?

Saudi Arabia eyes on diversifying its portfolio and opportunities in Turkmenistan. And investing to gas pipeline project TAPI is one of the options. John C.K.Daly, Washington-based specialist on Russia and CIS, in his article, appeared in The Arab Weekly, analyzed the reasons of this Middle Eastern country’s interest in TAPI project.

Saudi Arabia has allocated significant funds to support pipeline construction and the project is on course to purchase material for the main line, reminds the expert, referring to the Orient media outlet.

TAPI was on agenda of the intergovernmental Turkmen-Saudi commission on trade and economic cooperation, which met in October this year in Ashgabat.

“The context of any investment by Riyadh appears to be grounded in finding investment opportunities that would be unaffected by international sanctions”, says the article. From this point of view, the post-Soviet space is ideal.

Along with the economic advantages, the TAPI gas main will bring political benefits for Saudi Arabia. As known, the project is supported by the USA.

Last but not least reason for Saudi Arabia to support the initiative is diversification of its foreign energy assets.

In author’s opinion, some “collateral benefits” for Riyadh would be the political gratitude from Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, as these countries would like to see TAPI built.

It should be noted that large transnational energy projects, like TAPI, as a rule, entail significant geo-economic and geopolitical transformations, and not only in the participating countries. The logic is simple: energy sources encourage economic growth and stability, in turn, economic power amplifies the political voice in the external affairs.

From this point of view, Turkmen natural gas, which in the future (sure in the near future) will flow through TAPI, will provoke positive shifts in the entire region. Much has been already said that TAPI to become a vital energy route for a long-suffering Afghanistan, will help solve the energy deficit in Pakistan, and will finally meet the projected growth in demand for fossil fuels in India. Once expert circles said that TAPI could potentially reconcile two long-standing rivals, Islamabad and Delhi.

Therefore, the political interest in TAPI from the global players of the hydrocarbon market, including Saudi Arabia, is quite natural and understandable.

As for the supplier itself, Turkmenistan has always sought to diversify the channels of its gas exports, and it is not about attempt to reduce dependence on one buyer, as sometimes interpreted in the press.

There is a need to emphasize that Ashgabat, implementing the course of energy diversification, in other words, working out several routes of gas delivery to world markets, aims to put its enormous resource potential at the service of all mankind, and this was repeatedly stated at the country’s top level as well.

In the same vein, TAPI is being realized, gas exports to China are functioning, issues are being resolved with Russian partners, and a dialogue on possible European market oriented projects is being underway. And invariably gas export schemes, future projects - whether it is investment or infrastructure, are grounded on the principles of mutual accommodation of interests and mutual benefit.