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Turkmenistan Suspected Overestimating its Gas Reserves

Wednesday 16 January 2013, by Nazar TAMASHEVSKA

MOSCOW (The Voice of Russia) – Recently, the authorities of Turkmenistan announced that their country may become the world’s main gas power in a foreseeable future. However, experts are very sceptical about this statement. In a recent article, The Voice of Russia explains why.

This ambitious statement was based on a report published by British Petroleum (BP). The report, in particular, predicts that Turkmenistan’s role on the world market of gas will considerably grow within the next few years. But, Turkmenistan’s authorities are now saying that allegedly, the country’s gas deposits are enough to satisfy the needs of China, Russia, Iran and Europe.

Experts say that this statement is a very big exaggeration. Russia and Iran are currently the world’s largest producers of gas, and there are no grounds to say that they may cease to be such in the foreseeable future. The same report of BP says that Turkmenistan is now only on the 4th place in the world’s list of gas-producing countries. According to the latest estimations, Turkmenistan has nearly 25 tln m³ of gas, which is about 12% of the world’s gas. Not bad, but obviously not enough to pretend for the role of the world’s main gas power.

Alexander PasechnikMoreover, some experts say that even this figure of 12% is exaggerated. Russian expert in energy Alexander Pasechnik says:

Turkmenistan really has large gas deposits – but hardly as large as British Petroleum estimates them to be. Turkmenistan’s leaders are too ambitious when they say that their country may oust Russia from its place on the world gas market. Turkmenistan’s capacities for both extracting and transporting gas are obviously too weak for that.

At present, a gas pipeline is being built in Turkmenistan, called East–West. This will be the country’s longest gas pipeline, nearly 1,000 km long, which will connect Turkmenistan’s gas transport lines into a unified network. The Turkmen authorities even say that from 2015, their country will start to pump gas both to Europe and to countries that lie to the east from Turkmenistan.

However, experts in other countries also take this statement very sceptically. After all, this is not the first time that the Turkmen authorities overestimate their country’s natural resources. In 2009, they claimed that the newly discovered gas deposit in a place in Turkmenistan called Southern Iolotan-Osman is the world’s fourth largest one. However, later, it turned out that this was a very big exaggeration. True, the Iolotan-Osman deposit has more gas than all the other deposits in Turkmenistan altogether – but it is still not large enough to be called the world’s fourth largest gas deposit.

Moreover, the fact that Turkmenistan’s gas resources are not as large as the country’s authorities claim them to be is not the only problem about the Turkmen gas. Another one is the quality of this gas.

Sergey PravosudovAnother Russian energy expert, Sergey Pravosudov, says:

In the newly-found gas deposits in Turkmenistan, gas lies at the depth of more than 3 or 4 km, which makes it rather hard to extract. Moreover, this gas has inclusions of hydrogen sulphide, which means that it needs to be purified with special devices. And this is very expensive. So, although Turkmenistan’s resources of gas are really quite large, it would be very expensive for Turkmenistan itself to produce this gas. And, if they want to sell it to other countries, they would have to sell it at such a high price that hardly anyone would want to buy it.

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