July 17, 2015
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Turkmenistan as part of his tour of the five Central Asian republics was a critical opportunity for New Delhi to advance the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan India pipeline (TAPI), slated to transport to million cubic meters per day of natural gas to India, helping the world’s fastest growing major economy meet its own skyrocketing demand.
However, instead of announcing a major Indian initiative to expedite the selection of TAPI’s consortium leader, the hurdle that has stymied TAPI’s implementation, Modi suggested that an alternative land-sea route via Iran for transporting Turkmen gas should also be considered. Modi’s high profile plug for an Iran-Oman-India subsea pipeline by proposing its use for Turkmen gas exports was a savvy diplomatic gesture aimed at Beijing’s April 2015 agreement with Islamabad to construct most of Pakistan’s portion of the Iran-Pakistan (IP) pipeline. Coming just days before the Iran and the P5+1 announced the Iran nuclear deal, the suggestion was the prime minister’s opening shot in a Sino-Indian mini “Great Game” to orient the flow of gas exports from a post-sanctions Iran.