Shift in Turkmen Gas Exports

by Nathan Hamm on 10/1/2004 · 1 comment

Turkmenistan is reportedly shifting its natural gas export strategy (Eurasia Daily Monitor, Oct. 1–not yet online; the original story comes from NewsCentralAsia) away from pipelines to energy production and liquefied gas.

Typically, my eyes would glaze over at resource export news, but this is a somewhat different case. Why? As Jamestown’s Vladimir Socor reminds us,

At present, Turkmenistan’s gas exports consist almost entirely of pipeline-delivered natural gas, almost all of it to Russia and via Russia, using Gazprom’s pipelines.


These intentions, if implemented, could substantially change the recently announced plans to maximize exports of Turkmen natural gas by pipeline. Those deliveries, now running at nearly 40 billion cubic meters annually, are projected to surge to nearly 100 billion cubic meters annually to Russia and Ukraine from 2008 onward, through Gazprom pipelines. A significant and growing portion of those volumes is expected to reach European Union markets via Russia (or to enable Russia to use some volumes of Turkmen gas and release corresponding volumes of Russian gas to Europe with a steep commercial markup). Redirecting a large part of upstream output for internal processing in Turkmenistan and for exporting value-added products would clearly be advantageous to Turkmenistan.

All this could thwart Russia’s strategy of maximizing deliveries of Turkmen natural gas by pipeline, monopolizing the export route, and controlling Turkmen gas supplies to Europe. Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken of creating a Russian-led “Eurasian OPEC for gas” through Russian physical and commercial control of Central Asian natural gas exports. Turkmenistan’s natural gas export potential is of a magnitude close to Russia’s. Putin’s strategy would further increase Russian leverage in Europe and defeat the EU’s goal of supply diversification.

At the same time, it’s important to remember that Turkmenistan is known to quickly change course and that certainly could happen in this case. The situation certainly warrants attention though.

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This post was written by...

– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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{ 1 comment }

Asror October 1, 2004 at 6:46 pm

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