New Delhi: India will sign next week an agreement to buy natural gas from Turkmenistan through a pipeline passing through Afghanistan and Pakistan which the US had been backing as an alternative to Iran-Pakistan-India line.

The Union Cabinet this evening gave approval to state- owned gas utility GAIL India signing a Gas Sale and Purchase Agreement (GSPA) with TurrnenGas, Turkmenistan's national oil company, on May 23/24 for buying gas through the USD 7.6-billion Turkmenistan Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline, a top official said.

The 1,680-km pipeline from Turkeministan's South Yolotan field, now renamed as Galkynysh, will run to Herat and Kandahar province of Afghanistan, before entering Pakistan. In Pakistan, it will reach Multan via Quetta before ending at Fazilka (Punjab) in India.

The pipeline would carry 90 million standard cubic meters per day of gas, of which 14 mmscmd would be bought by Afghanistan. India and Pakistan would get 38 mmscmd each.

New Delhi had inked agreements for the IPI, which is shorter in length and passes through less difficult and dangerous terrains, some years back but it had been put on the backburner as US opposed to any energy deal with Iran for its alleged nuclear weapons programme.

The official said Asian Development Bank (ADB) would be appointed adviser for the project, which would be built by a consortium of international companies including GAIL.

India will pay for the gas only when it is delivered to it at its border, he said adding Afghanistan and Pakistan would sign host country agreements to provide security to the pipeline. In exchange, they would get USD 0.50 per million British thermal unit as transit fee from India.

(Agencies)

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