Turkmenistan says work has started on Afghan section of gas pipeline to Pakistan, India

Turkmenistan announced the start of construction work on the Afghan section of an $8 billion natural gas pipeline that will link the energy-rich Central Asian nation to Pakistan and India. (Reuters)
Updated 23 February 2018
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Turkmenistan says work has started on Afghan section of gas pipeline to Pakistan, India

SERHETABAT: Turkmenistan on Friday announced the start of construction work on the Afghan section of an $8 billion natural gas pipeline that will link the energy-rich Central Asian nation to Pakistan and India.
Ex-Soviet Turkmenistan holds the world’s fourth-largest natural gas reserves but has been heavily dependent on gas exports to China after Russia cut back gas imports in the past few years.
“Galkynysh, the world’s second-biggest gas field, will feed the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) pipeline,” Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov told reporters gathered in a town near the Turkmen-Afghan border through a video link.
Berdymukhamedov was in the western Afghan city of Herat together with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and India’s Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar.
The TAPI project, supported by the United States and the Asian Development Bank, has been touted by Turkmenistan since the 1990s. But starting work on the pipeline has been delayed because of the problem of crossing Afghanistan.
The pipeline will allow Turkmenistan to find new consumers in Asia and cut its dependence on Beijing, which buys about 35 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas annually.


French state-owned bank drops plan to aid trade with Iran

Updated 24 September 2018
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French state-owned bank drops plan to aid trade with Iran

PARIS: French state-owned bank Bpifrance has abandoned its plan to set up a mechanism to aid French companies trading with Iran, in the face of US sanctions against Tehran.
Earlier this year, the bank had said it was working on a project to finance French companies that wished to export goods to Iran despite US sanctions.
“It’s put on hold,” said Nicolas Dufourcq, Bpifrance’s chief executive. “Conditions are not met (...) Sanctions are punitive for companies.”
Bpifrance was working on establishing euro-denominated export guarantees to Iranian buyers of French goods and services. By structuring the financing through vehicles without any US link, Bpifrance thought it was possible to avoid the extraterritorial reach of US legislation.
Dufourcq’s latest comments show how the scope of the sanctions is making trade with Iran increasingly difficult for European companies.
The United States is renewing sanctions on Iran after withdrawing from a nuclear deal forged in 2015 between Tehran and world powers. Washington reimposed some of the financial sanctions from Aug. 6, while those affecting Iran’s petroleum sector will come into force from Nov. 4.
Even though several European countries have said they are seeking to protect their companies from the sanctions, several major companies including oil company Total, Air France-KLM and British Airways have announced they would suspend activities in Iran.
German officials have in recent weeks advocated for the creation of an independent system for cross-border payments to make trade with Iran possible even with the US sanctions.
European Union diplomats have said US President Donald Trump’s positions on trade and on Iran were fueling a rethink about the EU’s dependency on the US financial system.
However, European countries appear to be struggling to find or agree on effective options to tackle the issue.