Books on Turkmenistan
Update No: 348 -
In from the cold
There is no doubt that geopolitically and
economically Turkmenistan is losing its
pariah status. It is being courted by the
US for its cooperation in containing Iran
and by China for its oil and gas.
It is no longer locked into dependence on
Russia, as under its lunatic dictator,
Saparmurat Niyazov, who expired three
years ago in December 2007. His successor
and son is a shrewder fellow.
Iran objects to 'espionage treaty'
An Iranian official has criticized the
building of a seismic monitoring station
in neighbouring Turkmenistan, saying the
facility is designed to spy on Iran's
nuclear programme. Probably true. Senior
diplomat Abolfazl Zohrehvand said on
December 9 that the international treaty
that permits construction of seismic
observatories is, in his words, an
The monitoring station in Turkmenistan was
built by the Vienna-based Comprehensive
Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization,
which announced the facility's completion
in early December.
Zohrehvand accused the independent world
body of planning to set up other stations
in the region to monitor Iran.
Iran is a member of that organization and
agreed in the past to allow seismic
monitoring stations to be built on its
An organization spokeswoman (Annika
Thunborg) said its global network of
sensors is designed to monitor nuclear
explosions worldwide, not in particular
She said the decision to build the
Turkmenistan monitoring station was made
in the mid-1990s with Iranian involvement.
Western nations have accused Iran of
seeking to build nuclear weapons under
cover of a civilian energy programme -- a
charge Iran denies.
Chinese leader comes to town to launch
It shows the great importance that Beijing
places on Turkmen gas that Chinese leader,
President Hu Jintao himself, visited
Central Asia on December 12-14 to launch a
new gas pipeline from Turkmenistan, a new
milestone in China's quest for control
over the region's abundant energy
Turkmen gas is abundant. It is cleaner
than oil, a very important point in this
ecological age. The landmark central
Asia-to-China gas pipeline, China's first
cross-border gas pipeline, has to wind
2,000km via Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and
Kazakhstan and then across 9 ,000km of
Chinese territories to reach factories in
the south of China, a massive engineering
Beijing has stepped up its presence in
ex-Soviet Central Asia within the last few
years by handing out billions of dollars
in loans, snapping up energy assets and
building an oil pipeline from Kazakhstan
and now a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan.
China has agreed to issue a $3 billion
loan to Turkmenistan to develop the
Central Asian state's largest gas field,
South Iolotan contains between 4 trillion
and 14 trillion cubic metres of gas,
Britain's Gaffney, Cline and Associates
said in 2008, making it one of the world's
five largest deposits.
CNPC in new agreement
China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) will
sell imported natural gas from Central
Asia at up to 3,750 yuan a tonne, or about
3 yuan a cubic metre, to a city gas
distributor in southern China in 2011, a
rate far above existing domestic prices.
Under an agreement reached on November 12,
2007, CNPC will supply Shenzhen Gas Corp
Ltd with 3.2 million tonnes of gas per
year for a period of 25 years, Shenzhen
Gas said in a prospectus posted on its
website dated Dec 8 (www.szgas.com.cn).
Shenzhen Gas, the leading gas distributor
in Shenzhen city which borders Hongkong,
currently get most of its gas from
Guangdong Dapeng LNG, China's first
liquefied natural gas terminal operator,
at a price of 1.7 yuan per cubic metre.
Shenzhen Gas did not disclose the price of
gas to be supplied by CNPC after 2011, but
analysts have suggested prices could be
even higher given the unprecedented
long-haul shipping distance from central
In July, China's National Development and
Reform Commission set the city-gate gas
price in Shanghai at about 2 yuan a cubic
metre for gas to be pumped, via a nearly
1,700 kilometre pipeline, from western
Sichuan's Puguang field, which is operated
by Sinopec (0386.HK)(600028.SS).
China's President Hu Jintao’s historic
visit to Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan from
Dec. 12 to 14 marked the start-up of
operations of the gas pipeline that has
designed transport capacity of 30 billion
cubic metres per year when all
construction is completed.
China aims to deepen energy ties with
Central Asian states seeking new markets
for their oil, gas and uranium, a Chinese
official said on December 9. At home
CNPC's first west-to-east gas pipeline,
with capacity of 17 billion cubic metres
per year, winds over 4,000 kilometres from
Xinjiang in the northwest to Shanghai in
the east. The gas arrives at Shanghai at
1.4 yuan a cubic metre.