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Turkmenistan: Agreement Reached On Pipeline

Ashgabat, 15 May 1997 (RFE/RL) - Turkmenistan, Pakistan and an American oil company have reached an agreement on the construction of a pipeline to transport natural gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan.

The agreement was reached yesterday at the summit of the ten-member regional Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) in Ashgabat. A memorandum on the creation of an international consortium and the construction of the pipeline was signed by Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov, Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and representatives of America's Unocal oil company.

The memorandum envisages the creation of the international consortium by October. Construction of the pipeline is scheduled to begin by the end of this year.

Preliminary estimates put the cost of the 1,400- kilometer-long pipeline at between $2 and $2.7 billion. Up to 20,000 cubic meters of gas are expected to flow through the pipeline a year.