Turkmenistan to Play Crucial Role in Supplying Oil and Gas

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Oil and gas supplies and their future use is a major variable for the 21st. century. On the one hand there is a demand to go to renewable energy sources. On the other hand is that oil and gas will be used for many years to come. Turkmenistan’s president said on September 3oth. that his country had the capacity to almost quadruple its natural gas exports in the next 20 years and was ready to meet demand from Europe. The discovery of a major gas field was announced three days ago.

Turkmenistan is bordered by the Caspian Sea to the west, Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the east, and Iran and Afghanistan to the south. It is predominantly Sunni Muslim.

The country is a series of flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes rising to mountains in the south. The Kara Kum desert comprises 80 percent of Turkmenistan’s total area and is bound by a series of oases watered by the Amu Darya River in the north and by the Murgab, Tejen, and Artek rivers descending from mountains in the south.

Turkmenistan stated that total gas reserves were estimated at 24.6 trillion cubic meters (868 cubic feet). This represents more than triple the amount estimated previously.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, Turkmenistan’s reserves rank fourth worldwide by volume (see Background). Those are estimated at 265 trillion cubic feet and represent 4% of the world total.

“Our gas reserves will last for many decades to come,” Berdymukhamedov (Turkmenistan president) said describing the deposits discovered at the South Yoloten-Osman fields as “colossal”.

Turkmenistan does not currently supply gas to European countries, with its exports going directly to Russia, Iran and China.

Late last year, China and Central Asian countries opened their first cross-border natural gas pipeline, which should be able to pump up to 40 bcm of gas per year to China by 2012-13.

The pipeline runs nearly 2,000 km through Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan before entering Chinese territory in the northwestern Xinjiang region.

China received 2.38 bcm of gas via the pipeline in the first eight months of the year, according to China’s National Development and Reform Commission, quoted by Reuters.

Describing Turkmenistan as an authoritarian state, Michael Laubsch, an expert on Central Asia, recently told EurActiv that the country would be an “unreliable” partner for the European Union.

Turkmenistan has been described as a secretive country. Indeed the whole Central Asia region is not only strongly Muslim but based on an authoritarian designed governments. The possibility of political unrest and polluting industries poorly reported is highly disturbing.

Article by Andy Soos, appearing courtesy Environmental New Network.

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