x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Turkmenistan has more than sufficient gas

The first independent audit of Turkmenistan's largest gas deposit has found it has one of the world's biggest gas fields.

The first independent audit of Turkmenistan's largest gas deposit has found the central Asian state has one of the world's biggest gas fields and should have no problem fulfilling its export commitments. The audit's "best estimate" of reserves suggests Turkmenistan's South Yolotan-Osman field, near the Afghan border, holds six trillion cubic metres (tcm) or about 140 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas, according to the state news service, TDH.

The assessment, undertaken by the respected British firm Gaffney Cline and Associates, found the giant field's recoverable gas reserves were between four and 14 tcm, or roughly 140-495 tcf. Even at the lower end of the range, that easily places Yolotan among the world's top 10 gas fields. If its reserves are towards the upper end of the estimate range, the field could even turn out to be the planet's biggest onshore gas deposit.

"It is now clear that whatever the results of further verifications, there is more than sufficient gas to fulfil Turkmenistan's current contract commitments," said Jim Gillett, the business development manager of Gaffney Cline. "International best practice is generally to develop giant fields of this type in one or more phases of 10 billion cubic metres (bcm) per year. On Yolotan, this could then be expanded in a series of phases up to 70 bcm per year."

Turkmenistan's government hired Gaffney Cline to conduct the external audit to resolve uncertainties about the size of the country's gas resources that had discouraged foreign investment. The state's former autocrat, Saparmurat Niyazov, who died in Dec 2006, had said that Yolotan held seven tcm of gas, accounting for more than one third of his estimate of 20 tcm for total Turkmen gas reserves. Tachberdy Tagiev, the deputy chairman of Turkmenistan's cabinet, said in April the country had 24.6 tcm of reserves.

However, BP's industry benchmark Statistical Review of World Energy set a much lower estimate of 2.67 tcm for proved Turkmen gas reserves at the end of last year. The country has signed a 25-year contract to export 50 bcm of gas a year to Russia, and has agreed to supply another 40 bcm annually to China, starting late next year. It also exports 13 bcm of gas a year to Iran. @Email:tcarlisle@thenational.ae