A pipeline project that has been in the works for years in Qatar has finally opened to international traffic, with a $100 billion pipeline planned to carry crude from the Persian Gulf to the Middle East and Europe.
The project, dubbed the “Taliban Pipeline Project,” has been the subject of intense controversy in Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
The pipeline would run from Qatar to the Mediterranean Sea, through Iraq and Syria, through Iran and Turkey to Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
A new plan, called the “Etilfjord Pipeline Project” in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Emirates, would carry oil from Qatar through the Strait of Hormuz.
The new project is expected to open to international shipping by 2019, according to Qatar News Agency, and will bring nearly half a billion dollars into the country.
Qatar has been a staunch ally of Saudi Arabia during the Arab Spring, where protesters took to the streets demanding the return of President Mohammed bin Salman.
Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani said he would use the new pipeline to diversify Qatar’s energy supply and create jobs, and said Qatar will take “immediate steps” to prevent any possible spillage.
Saudi Arabia is a key ally of Qatar, which has been struggling to maintain a balance of power between its longtime archrival and Iran.
Qatar’s government has accused Saudi Arabia of helping Iran’s military build its missile program, which it says is aimed at hitting U.S. and Western targets.
Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen in support of Saudi-backed rebels have killed thousands of civilians, including hundreds of women and children.
Saudi Prime Minister Adel al-Jubeir and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have urged Qatar to stop supporting the Houthis and other rebels in Yemen.
Qatar denies arming the rebels, and Saudi officials have accused Qatar of supporting al-Qaeda.
A number of international and regional countries have also criticized Qatar’s support for the rebels.
The Qatar crisis erupted last week after Al Jazeera’s Persian service aired an interview with a Qatari-based al-Qaida fighter who said Qataris support of al-Qa’ida is a “great sin.”
Qatar has long denied that it supports the terrorist group, which the U.K. considers a terrorist organization.
The Qatari government has also denied that the country’s oil exports were a factor in the crisis.
The crisis has forced Qatar to suspend flights to the United States and cut off the country from the rest of the world.
The country’s parliament approved a new law last week to lift a $10 billion bond for the new oil pipeline project, but it has not yet been implemented.