ASHGABAT - Turkmenistan, holder of the world’s fourth-largest reserves of natural gas, plans to produce a total of 448.7 billion cubic metres (bcm) of the fuel in 2012-16, state media reported on Saturday, in a rare disclosure of such data in the reclusive nation.
But lifting the veil of secrecy, state television said Berdymukhamedov had late on Friday presided over a government meeting to personally approve the guidelines of the development of Turkmenistan’s oil and gas sector through 2016.
“According to the programme ... a total of 448.7 bcm of gas will be produced during this period,” the TV report said.
, adding that Berdymukhamedov stressed a need to boost foreign investment in the promising sector.
Berdymukhamedov, who remains the main source of macroeconomic statistics in the ex-Soviet desert nation, also said the country’s energy-fuelled gross domestic product (GDP) had risen by 11.1 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2011. This compares to a 14.4 percent rise in the same period of last year and a 9.2 percent increase in the first half of 2010.
Average annual output of around 90 bcm of natural gas targeted by the state programme is significantly higher than official and independent data for Turkmen production last year.
Estimates by energy major BP Plc put Turkmenistan’s 2011 natural gas output at 59.5 bcm, or 40.6 percent higher than in the previous year. A Turkmen official told an international gas conference in May that the country produced 66 bcm in 2011.
He gave no comparative data for the previous year. Industry analysts have until now put Turkmenistan’s production potential at 75 bcm a year. They say that for several years until 2011, actual output was well below 50 bcm due to small exports to the nation’s traditional market, Russia.
Increased natural gas output last year was largely due to larger gas exports.A China-bound pipeline from central Asia was launched in December 2009 and Turkmenistan has up to now been the only supplier of gas to the network, expected to supply 9 bcm this year, 10 bcm in 2013 and 15 bcm annually from 2014.
Natural gas is also exported to neighbouring Iran via a smaller pipeline. In 2011 gas export revenue totaled almost $11 billion, up 2.1 times over the 2010 level, the Turkmen official said in May.
BP data show Turkmenistan’s natural gas reserves are equal to those of Saudi Arabia and are smaller than only those of Russia, Iran and Qatar. Auditor Gaffney, Cline & Associates has ranked Turkmenistan’s largest gas field Galkynysh.
, better known under its previous name South Iolotan, the world’s second-largest, with gas reserves of between 13.1 trillion and 21.2 trillion cubic metres.