Turkmenistan's state media reports that President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has ordered state companies to begin the construction of a pipeline carrying gas from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.
Berdymukhammedov ordered Turkmengaz and Turkmengazneftstroi to start the construction of Turkmenistan's section of the pipeline in December, Turkmenistan.ru reported on November 7.
It is estimated that the 1,800-kilometer Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline will cost more than $10 billion.
State media said Ashgabat expects the gas link -- with an annual capacity of 33 billion cubic meters -- to be fully operational by the end of 2018.
Energy-rich Turkmenistan is dependent on China for the vast majority of its gas sales.
TAPI is seen as a key opportunity for the isolated Central Asian republic to diversify its exports.
However, uncertainties, including the risks associated with a pipeline crossing conflict-torn Afghanistan, hang over the four-nation project.