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TURKMENISTAN


 

 

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 6,010 7,672 4,000 110
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 1,120 1,200 950 131
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km) 
488,100 

Population 
4,863,169 

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

Capital 
Ashkhabad 

Currency 
Turkman Manat

President 
Saparmurat Niyazov


Update No: 311 - (29/11/06)

Free energy for all
There are few concerns about energy costs in the Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan. Its eccentric leader said all citizens will be provided with natural gas and power free of charge through 2030. President Saparmurat Niyazov said the decision will "help ensure a carefree life" for all residents. 
Turkmenistan is the second-biggest natural gas producer in the former Soviet Union after Russia.
His latest idea may be due to euphoria after a remarkable find, claimed to have been made in early November. This, if true, more than triples the country's already huge gas reserves, the fifth highest in the world, of which more soon. 

The weirdo of Central Asia
Anything Niyazov says has to be treated cautiously from mundane matters, however important, to spiritual ones.
He has ruled for 20 years and has developed an elaborate personality cult. Golden statues and busts of the president are scattered across the country, and his portrait is on every bank note and coin. 
Niyazov, though a national Muslim like the majority of his countrymen, is well on his way to establishing his own Muslim heresy. He has written a book of spiritual thoughts that all students are required to study in school, the Rukhmana (anyone who reads it three times, however, is promised a place in heaven) and he's ordered its placement in mosques next to the Koran. 
Niyazov persecutes Christians, Muslims who object to his cult of personality, and other believers, outlawing their gatherings, confiscating their literature, imprisoning those caught praying together even in private homes, and, in a throwback to Soviet-era practice, reportedly confining some in psychiatric hospitals. There are over 7,000 political prisoners.

Visiting German FM Assails Turkmen Rights Record
Germany is due to take over the EU's rotating presidency on January 1. It has an increasing clout on the world stage since re-unification, now led by the former East German, Angela Merkel. It has the largest volume of exports in the world. It is not looking to Turkmenistan for its gas, but Russia.
Visiting German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has been the first visitor to Turkmenistan to criticize President Niyazov's government over its poor human rights record to his face on a visit in November. Germany's dpa news agency quoted Steinmeier as saying that Turkmen authorities are "too hesitant" in implementing political reforms. The ZDF state television channel says the German visitor referred to Turkmenistan's "deficit in democracy."
Steinmeier made the comments in Ashgabat, where he arrived as part of a weeklong tour of Central Asian capitals.
Steinmeier, who met with Niyazov for three hours, said both sides could not overcome their differences. 
This is a stark and very undiplomatic way of putting things. He may have been heavy handed in true German style, but just as well. For once, an eminent foreign visitor is not kow-towing to an Asian energy pioneer with primitive concepts of human rights.
Turkmenistan's official TDH news agency reported on the meeting between Niyazov and Steinmeier, but made no mention of the German foreign minister's criticism. 
In a letter sent to Steinmeier on October 26th, the New York-based nongovernmental group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it hoped he would use his visit to "reinforce the message about the urgent need for concrete reform steps as a pre-condition for any deepening of EU engagement with the Turkmen government." He has done exactly that.

CNPC to participate in development of giant Turkmen gas field discovered in November
Niyazov is well aware that non-Western countries are not at all squeamish. He prefers dealing with them. Joint development of a vast new gas field is being offered to the Chinese, who are certain to accept.
Turkmenistan has invited the China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) to participate in the exploration of a newly discovered giant natural gas field in the resource-rich ex-Soviet state, the government said on November 22nd. President Saparmurat Niyazov signed a decree that envisages CNPC's participation in the exploration and development of the southeastern Iolotan field, which was 'discovered' earlier in the month, Niyazov's press service said in a statement. This and the kind of detail that is reported (so quickly) makes it suspect, particularly as Turkmenistan gas is under query as to whether all reserves are now committed. 
Niyazov claimed the field contained an estimated 7 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, adding to the Central Asian state's proven commercial reserves of 2.8 trillion cubic meters. If confirmed, this is a major development for the world gas industry. But Niyazov is too eccentric to be entirely trusted. It may be just another of his pranks, grossly exaggerating a more modest discovery. But then it may be true. Gas men everywhere will be electrified to know.
Within the next three years, CNPC would drill 12 wells up to 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) deep for gas worth a total of US$152 million (119 million Euro), excluding valued added tax, the statement said without specifying the amount of the VAT.
Turkmenistan possesses the second-biggest gas reserves among all ex-Soviet republics, after Russia, and its resources are playing an increasingly important role in regional geopolitics. 
In April, Turkmenistan concluded an agreement to build a gas pipeline to China. Currently Russia's state gas giant Gazprom controls the only transit route for Turkmen gas exports, going north towards Russian territory.
The agreement with Turkmenistan was the latest in the series of multibillion-dollar (multibillion-euro) deals concluded by energy-hungry China.
Neighbouring Kazakstan launched a pipeline to deliver oil to China in December 2005. In March 2006 Russia announced it would build another pipeline to transport gas and affirmed its commitment to building an oil pipeline.

Project of a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to India may become a challenge to Moscow
Then there is the vast Indian market to be considered. Postponed many times, the beginning of construction of a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan to Pakistan to India could now be a matter of a few months. Now big unresolved question still remains. Security for the pipeline in Afghanistan depends on peace there, not yet achieved. Also there's unresolved questions about Turkmenistans' ability to supply natural gas without tapping in to undeveloped reserves - if these are proven to exist.
The agreement was made at the two-day regional conference "Asia: Energy Cooperation" in New Delhi. Eighteen countries including Russia participated in the conference. Construction of the pipeline 1,680 kilometres long will cost US$3.3 billion. The Great Asian Pipe will run from Dovletad in Turkmenistan via Kandahar (Afghanistan) to the settlement of Fazilka in India on the Indian-Pakistani border. The feasibility study will probably be provided by Penspen of Great Britain, presumably the management company.
Presidents of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan signed the framework accord in 2003. Tempted as it was by financial considerations, official Islamabad was nevertheless reluctant to become a party to the strengthening of India through guaranteed gas deliveries. Encouraged and backed by Washington and London, Afghani Foreign Minister Dadfar Spanta at the New Delhi conference openly urged Islamabad to finally give his country a transport corridor to India. It worked - or so it seems.
The future gas pipeline in the meantime is in the focus of another intrigue, one that can be traced to Ashkhabad. President of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov has actively promoted the Asian project for the last year or two, simultaneously with Moscow's lobbyism of Gazprom and its global interests. It is common knowledge that it took Turkmen gas to finally resolve the Russian-Ukrainian gas crisis. The motives of the Turkmenbashi's relations with Gazprom, however, remained mostly hidden. Could it be that Niyazov saw the Asian project as a chance to arrange direct export of Turkmen gas? Could it be that he chose to rely on Gazprom's export capacities even here?
One other nuance directly concerns Moscow that seems to have gained confidence in its ability to act in several directions at once. It's reasoning comes down to the simple thesis: if Europe proves intractable, we'll find customers in Asia. Russia's geopolitical rivals in the meantime are busy. The New Delhi conference indicates that they actively promote alternative projects and first and foremost in the very heart of Asia. It means that the geostrategic game of the 21st century may actually fail to follow the Moscow script.
Turkmenistan could be a great beneficiary here.

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ENERGY

Turkmen oil, gas industry won't be privatised 


The Turkmen oil and gas industry will not be privatised, President Saparmurat Niyazov said at the 17th session of the Khalk Maslakhaty People's Council on October 25th, New Europe reported. 
The government will retain control of the oil and gas industry, "which guarantees that the entire people will benefit from the immense mineral resources of Turkmenistan, rather than a few making a fortune," he said. "Anyone wishing to buy crude and petroleum products can do so at the state raw material exchange of Turkmenistan and resell them," he said. The oil and gas industry will make up 50 per cent of national revenues in the future, Niyazov said. Turkmenistan will produce 1.19 billion tonnes of oil in 2007-2023, and 648 million tonnes will be exported. Net oil profits will amount to US$259.2 billion in that period, he said. Turkmenistan will also produce 4.09 trillion cubic metres of gas, including 2.88 trillion to be sold abroad, netting US$288 billion for the country, Niyazov said. "The industry will make up 50 per cent of national revenues, while the rest will come from textile, machine-building and other industries and agriculture," he said. Even if Turkmenistan yearly produces 200 billion cubic metres of gas, the appraised reserves will last for 250 years, he said. As for possible buyers of Turkmen energy resources, Niyazov recalled a large gas contract with China that stipulated annual exports of 30 billion cubic metres starting from 2009. "There will be peace in the neighbouring land of Afghanistan sooner or later, and we will be able to supply 30 billion cubic metres of Turkmen natural gas per year through Afghanistan to Pakistan and farther on to India. Another possible route is a gas pipeline through Afghanistan and Persian Gulf countries to the United Arab Emirates. This is a subject for negotiations. One more route is Russia. At present, Turkmenistan annually supplies 50 billion cubic metres of gas to the Russian Federation," he said. It is possible to build another gas pipeline to Russia along the Caspian coast, through Garabogaz and Kazakstan, he said.

Plans to boost gas production to 250 bcm a year by 2030 

Turkmenistan is planning to increase natural gas production to 250 billion cubic metres a year and oil production to 110 million tonnes by 2030, according to a development programme for the oil and gas sector approved by the parliament, Interfax News Agency reported. 
The growth will be achieved through a wide implementation of modern technology, the launch of new oil and gas fields and an increase in return from production at existing oil and gas fields, the programme said. 
Oil refining is expected to increase to 30 million tonnes by 2030 by renovating and re-equipping existing oil refineries and the launch of new production. 
Most of the programme is based on cooperation with foreign partners that already work in the country, such as Petronas, Dragon Oil, Burren Energy and Maersk Oil, as well as with other companies. 
Turkmenistan produced 9.5 million tonnes of oil and 63 billion cubic metres of natural gas in 2005.

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