http://www.dnaindia.com/money/report_india-russia-set-to-sign-mother-of-all-energy-deals_1531242 Indian and Russia are likely to sign what may very well be the mother of all energy deals towards the end of this year, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visits that country. The TAPI (acronym for Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline project, which will cost $7.5 billion, will span 1,678 km and is expected to go on stream by 2015. It would supply at least 33 billion cubic metres of gas to India from the very first year, and the volume is expected to be increased dramatically year on year. That will be a third more than what Reliance Industries will produce in a year considering its current rate of 50 million cubic metres of gas per day (or about 20 billion cubic metres in a year). Sources said 33 billion mmscmd is only a start because Turkmenistan plans to export as much as 180 billion cubic metres every year by 2030, or four-fifth of its total production then of 225 billion cubic metres. The Reliance gas is priced at $4.2 per mmBtu, while the supply from Russia is likely to be â€œat far more competitive pricesâ€ said Russian officials who did not wish to be named. What makes this extremely interesting and even economically attractive is the willingness of the US, NATO, and Russia to work together on the project. The Indian side of the pipeline will be constructed by Russian giant Gazprom. Alexey M Mzareulov, consul of the Russian Federation in Mumbai, said his countryâ€™s interest in this project stems from the fact that Russia and India have long enjoyed excellent relations both in business and culture. Both Russia and the US are keen on weaning away Afghanistan from poppy cultivation, hence making this country a partner in this project will be of extreme strategic significance. Pakistan also needs investment in non-military commercial ventures. Moreover, it will allow the US to work out an alternative gas supply source for India after it managed to persuade it not to go ahead with the Iran gas pipeline deal. The US and NATO will pay both Pakistan and Afghanistan for the security of this pipeline, and will also ensure that such security obligations are fulfilled. According to some sources, Pakistan and Afghanistan have also agreed to this deal. Only Indiaâ€™s formal consent is required, and this is likely to be obtained by the end of this year. Incidentally, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is also reported to have agreed to finance this project for the overall development of this region. What about China? Will it object to ADB funding the way it did to Indiaâ€™s hydel projects in the North-East? No, say market watchers. This case is likely to be a lot different because it is being sponsored by Russia, NATO and the US with the consent of both Afghanistan and Pakistan. In fact, such commercial tie-ups will also help reduce the levels of belligerence between India and Pakistan say these market watcher. All these factors could help contain any opposition that some sections of Chinaâ€™s government may harbour towards this project. Russiaâ€™s interest in Turkmenistan is understandable. It owns 10% of the equity in the Turmengaz, the countryâ€™s gas supply company. Moreover the entire management expertise and technology for Turkmenistan on this fron comes from Russia. Finally, as Russian experts say, few companies, other than Gazprom, have the expertise in building pipelines over mountains and rough terrain. The deal is therefore likely to be commercially attractive to Gazprom as well. In fact, this project is likely to be one of the key movers of trade relations between India and Russia which have normally involved military deals in the past. But Indiaâ€™s interest in Russiaâ€™s energy sector has witnessed an upward incline over the past few years. India already has a 20% stake in the Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project. There is also a joint venture between ONGC Videsh and Imperial Energy Corporation in Tomsk, another energy project. Other commercial tie-ups are also in the offing. During the recent visit of Russiaâ€™s president Dimitry Medvedev, Tata Sons was invited to participate in the Skolkovo Foundation, which is likely to become Russiaâ€™s equivalent of Silicon Valley. In 2010, a joint venture between the Russian truck manufacturer Kamaz and Vectra group began assembling in Hosur its Kamaz-6540 dump trucks with a gross weight of over 25 tonnes. The joint venture plans to produce 30-40% of all components for these vehicles in India in the next 3-4 years. Promtractor, a Russian tractor manufacturer, is also weighing a plant in India. And a joint venture in Orissa for producing titanium products is in the pipeline. The TAPI project is likely to become the biggest of such non-military business ventures between the two countries.