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turkmenistan

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TURKMENISTAN


 

Key Economic Data 
 
  2002 2001 2000 Ranking(2002)
GDP
Millions of US $ 7,672 4,000 4,400 98
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 1,200 950 750 127
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Turkmenistan

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km) 
488,100 

Population 
4,775,544 

Principal 
ethnic groups 
Turkmens 77%
Uzbeks 9.2%
Russians 6.7%

Capital 
Ashkhabad 

Currency 
Turkman Manat

President 
Saparmurat Niyazov

  

Update No: 284 - (27/08/04)

Niyazov's desert lake
The Turkmen leader, Saparmurat Niyazov, is at it again. He seems to have a bottomless pit of batty ideas. His latest wheeze could yet bring about his downfall, although given the savage scale of repression wielded by the regime, this is not likely, although if his powerful neighbours in Uzbekistan stir themselves, this could be his undoing .
The country is to spend $4.5bn, an utterly vast sum in Central Asia, on a huge reservoir in the Karakum desert that skirts the southern border of Uzbekistan. Called 'Lake Turkmen of the Golden Age,' it will be 75 miles long, 40 miles wide and 80 metres deep. It will, according to the Turkmen government, only collect waste water that would otherwise disappear into the sand. 
But many environmental experts are convinced that it will create a devastating ecological disaster, diverting water from the Amu Darya river, that flows along the border, one of the two main rivers of Central Asia, and cause a man-made drought downstream that would afflict the autonomous region of Karakalpakstan in Uzbekistan. Three million people could be turned into refugees by 2020, when it is due to be completed. This is an example of 'water war,' such as has long been predicted as a coming hazard for the world by environmentalists.
The project is closely reminiscent of the diversion of the two rivers that Uzbekistan engaged in during Soviet times, leading to the drying up of the Aral Sea, one of the world's worst environmental disasters. The vast irrigation scheme then at least has a certain madcap logic, namely to water Uzbek cotton fields. Niyazov's lake has no such rationale. It is but the latest of his vanity projects that have included littering the capital with statues of himself and his mother, changing the calendar to eight months of around 45 days duration, changing their names and obliging all schoolchildren to read and study his two-volume religious oeuvre that replaces the Koran and the Bible.

Possible nemesis?
"Now he wants to prove that he can master nature by bringing water to the desert," says Johan Gely, regional water programme manager for the Swiss development agency in Uzbekistan "There is no justification for this in terms of economic development or the needs of the Turkmen people. It's just crazy. The potential for local conflict is huge."
That is precisely where the demented dictator of Ashkhabad may be overreaching himself. He is giving the Uzbek regime a casus belli. As one distinguished observer, Oral Ataniyazova, a local deputy and winner of the 2000 Goldman environmental award for raising awareness about the Aral Sea, puts it: "This is ecological fascism. You don't need guns to destroy a people. You can just turn their water off."
Uzbekistan with its 24 million could see off any Turkmen force, one would have thought, especially if it secured the acquiescence of Kazakstan in redressing the matter. Turkmenistan has a population of only five million. Its vast empty deserts would be an easy target for a latter day Tamurlaine, the 14th century warrior emperor, whose capital was Samarkand in Uzbekistan.
Niyazov does not attend regional summits, obviously scared that he would be overthrown in his absence. He does not seem to have conceived the idea that his neighbours might come after him, lurking in his lair! It is still only a remote possibility of course. Indeed, it is early days yet. 

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AVIATION

Turkmen fleet gets new Boeing

A new Boeing 717 aircraft has joined the civil aviation fleet of the republic, the Ashgabat correspondent of Turkmenistan.ru reported recently. 
This is the second aircraft by the US producer to be delivered to Turkmenistan this year. In May 2003 a 64.8m Euro contract on the purchase of two Boeing 717 aircraft, spare parts and special motor equipment was signed. The new aircraft will function on domestic routes. The US aviation corporation is also to deliver a VIP class Boeing 767-300 aircraft in the coming months and a contract to this effect was signed in July 2003.

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ENERGY

Centrica eyes Turkmenistan gas supply link

Centrica, the gas and electricity supplier, is considering spending about 300m in a scheme to bring natural gas from Turkmenistan to Britain, as part of an effort to ensure the country has enough suppliers of the fuel as North Sea production dwindles, the Financial Times reported on August 16th.
Centrica could deliver the gas to British Gas customers through participation in a Russian/Ukraine project to bring the fuel from fields in Turkmenistan in central Asia to western Europe.
Centrica said it did not want to comment on plans - believed to be at an early stage - to join the RosUkrEnergo joint venture. But it said the company was looking at a number of potential projects to bring more gas to Britain from parts of the world such as North Africa and the former Soviet Union.
Assuming the plan reaches fruition, Centrica would take a stake of about 10% in the joint venture. It intends to spend up to 3bn to extract gas from central Asia and pipe it through the Ukraine to reach western European consumers and industries.
Existing partners in the venture - due to start up in January 2005 - are Russian gas company Gazprom, Naftogaz, a Ukrainian gas supplier and Raiffeisenbank, and Austrian bank.
During the next five years Centrica plans to spend up to 5bn on new pipelines and other installations to boost its ability to supply electricity and gas to its customers in the UK and elsewhere.
The need for this is becoming greater as supplies from the North Sea dwindle at a higher pace than many predicted a few years ago.
Centrica plans to use some of the money it gained from its recent 1.75bn sale of the AA motoring organisation on the new investments.

Dragon Oil completes 3rd well drilling in Jeytun

British-Arabian Dragon oil said that as a result of drilling the well in Jeytun, it is producing oil amounting to 1,843 barrels per day at a depth of 2,470 to 2,917m, Turkmenistan.ru website reported. 
The well was drilled to a depth of 3,222m where it had encountered a gas reservoir. A total of four development wells are expected to be drilled in the field from Jeytun-21 platform using Astra jack-up rig leased from LUKoil-offshore company.
Dragon Oil is developing two offshore fields in the Turkmen sector of the Caspian Sea, Jeytun (former LAM) and Jigalibek (former Zhdanova), in the Cheleken contract area. A production-sharing agreement was signed with the Turkmen government in November 1999. According to the state enterprise on the Caspian Sea under the president of Turkmenistan, oil production in the contracted area totalled 630,000 tonnes in 2003, a 30% increase on the same period in 2002.

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TRANSPORT

New tractors in Turkmenistan

Gibraltar-based IP Consult International Ltd will deliver 100 Case MX-210 tractors for 9.3m and 200 Kverneland LD-400-100M ploughs for 2.9m to Turkmenistan by November 15th, 2004. Apart from this, the company will deliver 500 DE-3.6 grain sowing-machines worth 3.0m along with spare parts and miscellaneous parts worth 2.6m in several stages by November 30th, 2004. Another Gibraltar-based company, AGTECH LTD, the official distributor for Deer and Co, will deliver 100 John Deer-7720 tractors amounting to 8.7m, the Ashgabat correspondent of Turkmenistan.ru recently reported. 
According to a decree signed by Turkmen president Saparmurat Niyazov, all the equipment is to be delivered to the Association of joint-stock companies on industrial and technical support of agriculture, Turkmenobakhyzmat.

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