Turkmenistan has potential to become major player in gas market

Oil&Gas Materials 27 October 2011 18:08 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, Oct. 27 / Trend A.Badalova/

Turkmenistan has enough gas reserves to meet not only its present commitments, but also any new European needs, Professor of International Relations at the American University of Paris Terence Murphy believes.

"Turkmenistan has the fourth largest gas reserves in the world," Murphy wrote in an e-mail to Trend. "And although its energy efficiency is only about 50 percent of a major developed economy, its population of 5 million consumes only a fraction of the energy extracted from its vast reserves,"

That combination, Murphy believes, gives Turkmenistan the potential to become, like Qatar, a major player in the natural gas market.

According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, in early 2011 proved reserves of gas in Turkmenistan amounted to 8 trillion cubic meters. In 2010 Turkmenistan's gas production increased by 1.3 percent to 42.4 billion cubic meters in 2010.

Recently an independent British auditor Gaffney, Cline & Associates said South Yolotan field in Turkmenistan holds up to 21.2 trillion cubic meters of gas. With such volume of reserves it yields only the South Pars field, shared between Iran and Qatar. Turkmenistan's Yashlar field, which is smaller, could hold up to 5 trillion cubic meters of gas.

Such large gas reserves are enough to meet Turkmenistan's present commitments and, if necessary, meet any new European needs, Murphy said.

Talking about the recent statement about Ukraine's intention to get Turkmen gas via Russian pipelines, Murphy said the possible agreement on that issue will be just a resumption of the gas trade between Turkmenistan and Ukraine.

"Until 2006 Turkmenistan was the major supplier of natural gas to Ukraine," Murphy added. "Kiev paid for the gas by exporting goods and services to Turkmenistan,"

He also noted that Turkmen gas transits Russia through the Gazprom network.

"In other words, Russia remains the intermediary between Turkmenistan and Ukraine," Murphy said. "The recent declarations of intention to resume the sale of Turkmen gas to Ukraine is then simply a return to a previous condition,"

However, the resumption of the gas trade depends on Kiev agreeing to join the free trade zone with the Commonwealth of Independent States, Murphy said.

Carlo Stagnaro, Research Director of the Italian think tank Istituto Bruno Leoni believes that the possible agreement between Russia and Ukraine would not have a real impact on Europe's security of supply.

The EU's demand for natural gas will be consistently lower than expected, because of the impact of the economic crisis," Stagnaro told Trend via e-mail.

At the same time, lower prices for LNG and the potential development of domestic unconventional resources, as well as the possible development of new infrastructures (including LNG terminals and pipelines such as Nabucco or South Stream), work as a sort of insurance policy for Europe, Stagnaro believes.