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turkmenistan  

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TURKMENISTAN


 

 

In-depth Business Intelligence

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: 301 - (30/01/06)

Launch of internal purge
Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov maintained his country's profound isolation from the outside world even as he has engineered a wide-ranging purge that eliminated longtime allies, rendering speculation about the future of his maddeningly opaque regime more difficult than ever.
His 'allies' are little more than ciphers, with all power concentrated in his hands. But since an unsuccessful attempt on his life on November 25th, 2003, he has become increasingly paranoid, as is the wont of hated dictators. 

Balance-sheet of 2005
Virtually all of Turkmenistan's limited interactions in 2005 with the outside world involved the country's exports of natural gas. The keynote was an effort to obtain higher payments from Russia and Ukraine amid continuing uncertainty over Turkmenistan's reserves and production capacity in 2006.
In September, an analyst with the Asian Development Bank stated that production forecasts for Turkmenistan's Daulatabad gas field may not be sufficient to justify the construction of a pipeline through Afghanistan to Pakistan. In June, Gazprom voiced concerns about Turkmenistan's reserves, noting that Ashgabat has been slow to provide a promised audit. The issue is particularly important to Gazprom, which is slated to boost imports from Turkmenistan to 60 billion-70 billion cubic meters a year by 2007, while Russian reports have suggested that current production levels are actually closer to 45 billion.
Meanwhile, Turkmenistan attempted in December to impose a price hike -- from $44 per 1,000 cubic meters to $60 -- on Ukraine and Russia for 2006 gas shipments, although it remains unclear whether Turkmenistan will be able to meet its planned contractual obligations to both countries. Negotiations with Russia have not yet produced an agreement, and Ukrainian claims that a deal with Ashgabat has been reached still lack Turkmen confirmation.
On the margins, Turkmenistan explored expanded energy cooperation with China. Turkmen Deputy Prime Minister Atamurat Berdiev visited China in early December, reporting back that China is interested in gas imports from Turkmenistan. Turkmen President Niyazov, who spent much of 2005 shuffling and reshuffling the management of the country's energy sector, is scheduled to take a rare trip abroad to China in April 2006.

2006 so far
A deal was reached between Kiev and Moscow in early January that would allow Turkmen gas to continue to be exported via Russia to Ukraine. It is not yet clear at what price the gas will be bought, but a large rise is unlikely. Turkmenistan has nowhere else to sell its gas and Ukraine is in a classic monopsony (the consumer equivalent of monopoly) position. President Viktor Yushchenko says that roughly US$50 per 1,000 cubic metres is the relevant ball-park - under one quarter of the world market price. 
Turkmenistan pays a heavy price for its buffoon of a dictator, who so disgusted Western energy company officials several years ago with his arrogance and conceit that they broke off all negotiations concerning an alternative Caspan Sea gas pipeline to Turkey and beyond. But then it is difficult to deal in mundane matters with a man who thinks that he equals Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed for spiritual profundity. 
While natural gas production by Turkmenistan rose 8% last year to 63bn cubic metres, officials said, the Central Asian state is prepared this year to massively crank up output in response to increased demand from Ukraine. 
Gas exports last year were about two thirds the amount produced, with exports rising from 42bn cubic metres to 45.2bn cubic metres, the state statistics institute said. 
However this year Turkmenistan plans to raise gas production by 37 pct to 80bn cubic metres, of which all but 2bn cubic metres will be exported, President Saparmurat Niyazov said in his New Year television address. 
The chief export destination will be Ukraine, which will receive 40bn cubic metres of Turkmen gas this year, followed by Russia with 30bn cubic metres and Iran with 8bn cubic metres.


                                          ****
The following is an informed and balanced analysis of the vital trading relationship with Ukraine:-

Russian-Ukrainian accord does not ease regional security concerns 
Igor Torbakov Eurasianet
Although Russia and Ukraine have settled their differences over the price of gas deliveries, concerns over energy security are lingering in Europe. The maintenance of steady supplies could depend in part on unpredictable Turkmenistan.
The complex pricing plan forged by Russia and Ukraine involve at least two tricky points, most independent energy analysts suggest. First, it dramatically enhances the role of a shady intermediary company that will serve as the sole gas provider to Ukraine. Second, the deal appears to be hinging on Central Asian supplies, in particular on gas coming from Turkmenistan, a country whose energy policy is notoriously fickle.
Under the terms of the five-year accord, Gazprom, Russia's state-run energy monopoly, will sell gas to an intermediary, RosUkrEnergo, at a rate of US$230 per thousand cubic meters (tcm) -- the price that it had insisted Ukraine pay. Ukraine will then buy gas from RosUkrEnergo for US$95/tcm - nearly twice what it had previously been paying Gazprom. RosUkrEnergo, which is owned by Gazprombank and a Swiss subsidiary of Austria's Raiffeisen Bank, claims it can pay and charge different prices because it will also be buying gas from the Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan for comparatively low prices. According to Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko, Turkmen gas will cost roughly US$50/tcm.
The deal has raised the eyebrows in many quarters. RosUkrEnergo opaque operating structure and methods have prompted many energy analysts to believe the company to be a front, designed to facilitate corrupt practices. Its true beneficiaries, some well-informed sources contend, can be found among the Gazprom's senior management and the Kremlin leadership. In addition, Raiffeisen Bank reportedly represents unnamed Ukrainian investors. The deal has already met considerable political opposition in Ukraine.
Another dicey aspect of the deal, energy analysts say, is the assumption that the Central Asian nations will continue to serve as reliable suppliers at existing, rock-bottom prices. While Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are relatively minor gas producers, Turkmenistan, which supposedly holds major gas reserves, has exhibited signs of discontent over existing gas prices.
Turkmen leader Saparmurat Niyazov is likely to try to take advantage of the Russian-Ukrainian pricing dispute by seeking a better price for Turkmen energy, some experts suggest. "Turkmenistan can now put forward the argument to Russia that 'if you do it, why can't we' and unilaterally increase its prices," says Eduard Poletayev, editor of the Kazakhstan-based journal Mir v Azii.

Last January, Turkmenistan briefly cut gas supplies to both Russia and Ukraine in a price dispute. The recent Russian-Ukrainian gas accord appears to give Ashgabat more leverage. Given the terms of the Russian-Ukrainian agreement, analysts expect that over the next five years, Kyiv will try everything possible to reduce the volume of Russian imports and up the level of cheaper Turkmen energy. But the tough question is: how long will the mercurial Niyazov tolerate the energy status quo. Turkmen officials have already indicated that the country may start charging a global market rate starting in 2007.
If Niyazov finds himself unable to get a price he thinks Turkmenistan deserves from Ukraine and Russia, he could always order a cut-off in supplies. If a cut-off occurs, Ukraine would likely continue drawing fuel from the pipeline, possibly leading to a repetition of the situation that occurred during the first days of 2006, when the European customers suffered shortages caused by the Russian cut-off.
In the eyes of many European policymakers, the Russia-Ukraine gas dispute exposed Europe's deep dependence on Russia. To reduce that vulnerability, they argue, Europe should seek out other gas suppliers and develop alternative fuels. EU energy officials have called for a "clear and more collective policy" concerning energy security. 
Turkey, an EU candidate country, is among the countries most dependent on Russia for energy. Ankara gets around 15 billion cubic meters of Russian gas annually, which constitutes more than 60 per cent of national consumption. The gas is delivered via two routes: a western route that runs through Ukraine, Moldova, Rumania and Bulgaria; and the so-called Blue Stream pipeline under the Black Sea. With Blue Stream transporting around 16 billion cubic meters of gas annually in the coming years, Turkey's energy dependency on Russia should increase dramatically, a number of Turkish experts say. This situation could create complications for Ankara's foreign policy, in particular in the South Caucasus and Central Asia, where Russian and Turkish interests often clash. 
In his annual address, Gen. Hilmi Ozkok, Turkey's Chief of the General Staff, specifically emphasized the importance of energy security in the country's strategic calculus. According to a recent report published by the Radikal daily, Turkey's National Security Council also considers the country's dependence on Russia for energy as an issue of strategic security. 
On November 17, during the Blue Stream inauguration day, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed the construction of a second Black Sea pipeline for both oil and gas. Such a route could raise capacity from this year's 3.7 billion cubic meters of gas to around 30 billion cubic meters. Many Turkish analysts have reacted cautiously to the proposal. "Turkey cannot be so dependent on any single energy provider," argued Suat Kiniklioglu, the head of the Ankara office of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. "Turkish decision-makers would be well advised to rethink Turkish energy diversification," he added in a commentary published by the Turkish Daily News. 
Editor's Note: Igor Torbakov is a freelance journalist and researcher who specializes in CIS political affairs. He holds an MA in History from Moscow State University and a PhD from the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. He was Research Scholar at the Institute of Russian History, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow; a Visiting Scholar at the Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington DC; a Fulbright Scholar at Columbia University, New York; and a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University. He is now based in Istanbul, Turkey.

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ENERGY

Gazprom to buy 30 bcm of Turkmen gas in 2006 

Turkmen President, Saparmurat Niyazov, and Russian gas giant Gazprom's CEO, Alexei Miller, on December 29th in Ashgabat signed an agreement on Turkmen natural gas shipments to Russia in 2006, Interfax News Agency reported. 
According to the agreement, Gazprom is to buy 30 billion cubic metres of gas from Turkmenistan in 2006 at 65 Euro per 1,000 cubic metres. "The operating conditions for 2007 onward will be defined in the second half of 2006 as implied by the effective contract until 2028," the release said. Earlier the price of Turkmen gas was set at 44 Euro for 1,000 cubic metres. In their statements following the signing ceremony, Niyazov and Miller stressed the importance of this document not only for the successful partnership in the gas field but for Turkmen-Russian relations as a whole and for strengthening ties of friendship and cooperation between Turkmenistan and Russia.
The Russian delegation also discussed aspects of bilateral cooperation in the gas sector in 2006 and onward. "Participants in the meeting were satisfied with the dynamic development of cooperation and the implementation of all previous understandings. The sides acknowledged the significant rise in prices on the market of fuel, materials and equipment for the oil and gas sector and agreed to adjust the price of Turkmen gas sold to Gazprom, with due consideration of these factors," a Gazprom release read. 
Niyazov also thanked the Russian leadership and Gazprom for the efforts to develop relations between the two countries and said Turkmenistan would always adhere to this partnership. "We are ready to jointly access the world markets and develop energy resources," Niyazov said.
He added, "We recently signed a contract on the delivery of 40 billion cubic metres of gas to Ukraine. The deal envisions a slightly lower price, but I think that it is just a matter of time," The government Turkmendovletkhabarlary agency quoted Niyazov as saying.

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FOREIGN COOPERATION

Niyazov, Nazarbayev discuss cooperation 

Turkmen President, Saparmurat Niyazov, and his Kazak counterpart, Nursultan Nazarbayev, discussed bilateral cooperation in a telephone conversation, Turkmenistan.ru quoted the state news service of Turkmenistan as saying.
During the conversation, both presidents discussed the current condition and prospects of economic and humanitarian cooperation, paying special attention to oil and gas, including the development of Caspian resources.
In this context the presidents agreed to create working groups to prepare interstate agreements on concrete projects required to bring the bilateral relations to a qualitatively new level. Some other issues of mutual interest were also considered. Niyazov congratulated Nazarbayev on his convincing victory in the presidential election and the forthcoming inauguration. The presidents exchanged New Year wishes of health and successes for the sake of the Turkmen and Kazak peoples. They expressed their certainty that relations of friendship, brotherhood, and neighbourly relations between their republics would continue and wished peace and prosperity to the peoples of both states. 

 

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