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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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Update No: 356 - (26/08/10)

The Turkmen hotspot
Turkmenistan is one of the biggest energy giants of all time. Its portion of the Caspian Sea holds an estimated 11 billion tonnes of oil and 5.5 tcm of gas; 32 licensed blocks are up for tender.

It was in Soviet times totally under the wing of Moscow. It naturally wishes to diversify from the Muscovite embrace.

It has a new ruler, President Kurbanguly Berdymukhmedov, who was the dentist of former president Saparmurat Niyazov, who died in December 2007. He bears a striking resemblance to him, except of course with more glossy black hair. A chip off the old block?

Well, he clearly wants to be his own man. This means courting the West - but also the East.

U.S. majors win first offshore oil concessions
Turkmenistan on August 13 offered U.S. energy majors their first concessions in the Central Asian state and said it was pursuing a $4.1 billion loan from China to develop one of the world's five largest natural gas fields and ship the gas east.

State television named Chevron Corp, ConocoPhillips, Houston-based TXOil Ltd and Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Oil and Gas as the preferred bidders for two offshore oil blocks within Turkmenistan's portion of the Caspian Sea.

It also reported that Turkmenistan expected to secure a loan from China to develop the lucrative South Iolotan gas deposit, the second round of financing for a project contracted out to Chinese state oil and gas firm CNPC and other Asian companies.

Ex-Soviet Turkmenistan is looking to diversify energy sales from its traditional market, Russia, and is courting investors from the West, China and other Asian countries keen for a share of gas to be pumped from the world's fourth-largest reserves.

"President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov gave the order to the relevant sector leaders to hold productive negotiations with the State Development Bank of China for the receipt of a favourable loan of $4.1 billion," state television reported.

A source in the government, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the credit was required for the second phase of South Iolotan, a deposit that Turkmenistan estimates could contain up to 16 trillion cubic metres (tcm) of gas.

British firm Gaffney, Cline and Associates audited the field in 2008 and said at the time it contained between 4 and 14 tcm.

The first pipeline between gas-rich central Asia and energy-hungry China opened in 2009 and the expanded link should be able to carry up to 40 bcm of gas a year to China by 2012-13, if enough gas is pumped out of the ground to fill the multi-billion dollar pipelines.

"There's obviously a supply risk involved in that and one way that they can mitigate the supply risk for this pipeline is by ensuring that the investment goes into the upstream project," Ian Thom, head of Caspian energy research at Wood Mackenzie in Edinburgh said.

"They can't build the pipeline and then not have the gas. This to me just looks like another step in China's penetration into the Central Asia energy sphere."

Chevron had earlier held talks about its possible participation in developing the South Iolotan field, a company official said in November.

Its selection among the four companies to drill blocks 9 and 20 in the Caspian Sea marks a step forward for U.S. companies in the country, which had to date been unable to secure licences. Richard Morningstar, Washington's energy envoy for the Eurasian region, said during a visit to Ashgabat on Aug. 3 that U.S. companies had made "a lot of progress" with offshore projects in Turkmenistan.

The same government source told Reuters that ConocoPhillips and Mubadala had bid together for access to the Caspian. The two companies are already working on an offshore oil joint venture in Kazakhstan's portion of the sea.

State television, while naming the companies, revealed neither the size of the blocks nor the investment involved.

Trans-Afghan link
The same television report also cited an order from President Berdymukhamedov to conclude a preliminary gas supply contract with Pakistan and India by the end of this year.

The government source said India and Pakistan had expressed interest in buying up to 70 billion cubic metres of Turkmen gas annually via an ambitious trans-Afghan pipeline, known as TAPI after the four countries through which it would pass.

"This pipeline, at a cost of $3.3 billion, could bring peace and stability to Afghanistan, as well as jobs and hard currency," the Turkmen government source said.

He said gas could be drawn both from South Iolotan and the existing Dovletabad field. The planned pipeline would run for nearly 2,000 km (1,250 miles), including 735 km across Afghanistan and another 800 km through Pakistan.

 

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