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Annexed by Russia between 1865 and 1885, Turkmenistan became a Soviet republic in 1925. It achieved its independence upon the dissolution of the USSR in 1991.
President NIYAZOV retains absolute control over the country and opposition is not tolerated. Extensive hydrocarbon/natural gas reserves could prove a boon to
this underdeveloped country if extraction and delivery projects can be worked out.
Update No: 257 - (30/05/02)
The Tajik republic is doing well. It is a firm ally of the US against terrorism, exchanging embassies and establishing good relations. The outcome of the recent Afghan war could hardly have been more favourable. The Northern Alliance, dominated by ethnic Tajiks, has prevailed and there are three Tajiks in top posts in the new government. Of 38 new generals appointed in the reconstructed army, 37 are ethnic Tajiks.
Tajikistan itself has dealt with its own moderate Islamic fundamentalists more tolerantly of late, having won a war against them in the early 1990s. The (not so very) post-communist government has brokered a peace with them, which is now more likely to be sustained.
Russia still allies
Having the US as an ally should change things a great deal for the Tajiks. But they are keeping up the old ties with the Russians, who provide basic defence. Some 20,000 Russian troops patrol the borders. The accord, under which they do so, dating from April 1999, has been renewed.
Foreign sponsors needed
What Tajikistan needs in addition is the sponsorship of its economic development such as Germany is offering Kyrgyzstan next door. There has been a 70% jump in foreign direct investment (FDI). But more is needed than that. The sums involved are not so impressive. FDI was US$49m in 2001, no very big figure. Some 43% of this came from the UK, in the shape of several jvs. FDI in 2002, however, is shaping up to be around US$200m, which shows how 9:11 has changed everything.
The real need is for a more 'hands-on' approach by a major country like Germany, prepared to extend technical and institutional support. Japan has expressed interest in Tajikistan and could be the vital catalyst here.
An alternative is France; Chirac and Rakhmonov have been in communication recently and the French foreign minister, Hubert Vedrin, visited Dushanbe. But their cooperation is geopolitical, rather then economic, French troops being disposed there.
The economy recovers
The civil war with the Islamicists naturally devastated what was already the poorest economy in the CIS. Then came a three-year-long drought, ending only recently.
There is plenty of water in the Pamir Mountain passes, but not in the plains where it is wanted. A water crisis is building up throughout central Asia.
From very low base figures, Tajikistan is rapidly picking up again. GDP growth was 8.3% in 2000 and 10.2% in 2001, while it is projected at 6% for 2002. But this is negligible in absolute terms after a massive one half contraction since independence in 1991. There is a great deal still to do.
French Foster Wheeler strikes coker project
France's Foster Wheeler was recently awarded a US$43m front-end engineering and design contract for a delayed coker revamp project at Emerol Ltd's 116,000 b/d Turkmenbashi refinery in Turkmenistan, which sparks off a major modernisation programme planned for the country's oil and gas industry, Hart's European fuels news reported.
The contract calls for de-bottle-necking and modernisation of the plant's existing delayed coker unit, which is of Russian design, Foster Wheeler noted. The revamp will include Foster Wheeler's proprietary delayed coking technology, and is expected to be completed by early 2003, the company said.
New well unveiled in Turkmen-Uzbek border
New gas sources were recently discovered on the right bank of the Amu Darya river, which is on the Turkmen-Uzbek border in the Unguz Garagum area. The discovery of these two new wells involves a further 50 million cubic metre increase in the monthly output of the Turkmen state. The reserves of operating gas fields will be increased significantly within the next few years. In this regard, construction of more production gas wells started in the country. The intense industrial development of the country's gas reserves for export is the core of the concept drawn up by the president, Saparmyrat Nyyazov, on boosting Turkmenistan's fuel sector.
In the framework of this programme, Turkmanburgaz, Turkmen gas drilling, and Lebapnebitgazgurlusyk (Lebap oil and gas construction) are carrying out the construction of production wells in the Yelguyy, Malay, Dowletabat, 10 years of Independence, Cartak and other areas. This gives a start to the new project on prospective works on the right side of the Amu Darya river and in the Unguz Garagum areas to increase significantly the raw fuel reserves.
Turkmen gas drying deal just around the corner
State-run concern Turkmengaz and a consortium of PALL GmbH (Germany), Sulzer Chemtech (Switzerland), and Enex Process Engineering (Belgium) will sign a contract to design and build an installation at the Deryalyk compressor station, Interfax News Agency quoted a source from the Turkmen presidential staff as saying.
The project is valued at a total of US$23.14m. The installation is to get under construction this month, June 2002, and to be completed in May of next year. The construction will be financed by the state fund for the development of the oil and gas industry and mineral resources. The source said that with the commencement of the drying facility, the quality of gas would be upgraded to world standards so that Turkmenistan could better meet its commitments on gas exports.
Turkmenistan plans to extract and export more oil and gas in 2002
Turkmenistan will extract 13.5m tonnes of oil and 70.8bn cubic metres of gas this year, up by 1.6 and 1.4 times respectively from 2001. Moreover, Turkmenistan will refine 7.7m tonnes of oil, the programme for development of Turkmenistan's oil and gas sector reads. Turkmen President Saparmyrat Nyyazow endorsed the programme.
More oil will be pumped thanks to the drilling of new wells and launching new projects to re-invest proceeds from growing oil production. Angle and horizontal drilling will be used more widely, together with innovative methods of pumping oil from several layers simultaneously in the same well will be used. Old wells in the Koturdepe, Barsagelmez and Gumdag deposits will be overhauled and crude will be extracted via gas lifting and bed water pumping.
Gas extraction will be increased at the Dovletabat, Balguyy, Malay and Korpeje deposits. Construction of the Ylyanly compressor plant and a 43-kilometre export gas pipeline will be completed in 2002. Gas will be pumped at new deposits including Gagarin, Balguyy and Cartak abd construction of compressor plants will begin in Korpeje and Koturdepe.
Geophysics and drilling will be conducted in priority areas and promising structures will be prepared for development. Furthermore, deep wells will be drilled to the Mesozoic layers in western Turkmenistan notably eastern Celeken and Ekerem and to the under-salt carbon layers of Western Satlyk. Exploration will be concentrated in Gunbatar Ekerem, Was, Nebitlije and Yasyldepe.
Turkmenbasy oil refineries will be expanded and upgraded, up to 7.7m tonnes of crude will be processed into high-quality products. This amount will fully meet domestic demand and ensure higher exports of oil products.
Construction of a gas-turbine facility with the capacity of 126.4MW will be continued at the Turkmenbasy complex and its slow coking unit will be overhauled. The ALOU-AVT-6 and catalytic reforming units will be refurbished at the Seydi refinery.
Turkmenistan plans to export 2.7m tonnes of crude this year, up from 2.2m tonnes in 2001. Gas exports will be boosted to 56.5bn cubic metres in 2002, up from 37.3bn cubic metres last year. Of this, 40bn cubic metres of gas will be exported to Ukraine, 10bn cubic metres will be sold to the international corporation, Itera, and 6.5bn cubic metres will be pumped to Iran.
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