TASHKENT, April 23 (Reuters) - Uzbekistan plans to join an $8 billion project to build a natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to India, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said on Monday, although it was unclear whether Tashkent might eventually ship gas through it.
Turkmenistan, which sits on the world’s fourth-biggest gas reserves and borders Afghanistan, started this year laying the Afghan section of the pipeline which will also cross Pakistan, seeing it as key to diversifying exports away from China.
Uzbekistan also exports gas, mainly to China and Russia, although its export volumes are much lower than the Turkmen ones due to higher domestic consumption.
“We have agreed that Uzbekistan will also take part in this project,” Mirziyoyev told reporters after meeting his Turkmen counterpart Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, who visited Uzbekistan.
He provided no details, but said Uzbek experts would travel to Turkmenistan to discuss Tashkent’s role in the pipeline.
Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, both ex-Soviet Central Asian republics, each produce more than 60 billion cubic metres of gas a year. China dominates Turkmen exports while Uzbek gas sales are split roughly equally between China and Russia. (Reporting by Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Mark Potter)