Turkmenistan prepares gas reserves survey for trans-Afghan pipeline

Feb 27, 2004 01:00 AM

Turkmenistan will conduct a survey of its vast natural gas reserves as part of preparations for a planned trans-Afghan pipeline that has drawn strong international support since the fall of the Taliban, Turkmen officials said.
President Saparmurat Niyazov signed a decree ordering the Oil and Gas Ministry to determine actual reserves in south-eastern Turkmenistan, where the Dauletabad-Donmez field is set to be the starting point for the $ 3.5 bn pipeline through Afghanistan to Pakistan.

A $ 1.1 mm contract is to be signed with American and British firms for the survey. The move came after a request from the Asian Development Bank, which has strongly backed the pipeline project and conducted a feasibility study of the project.
The pipeline was originally contemplated in the 1990s with the participation of US energy giant Unocal, but those plans were abandoned when the United States fired cruise missiles into Afghanistan in 1998 in pursuit of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, blamed for two US embassy bombings that year in east Africa.

Since the US-led anti-terror campaign in Afghanistan, the project has been revived and drawn strong US support as a means to increase regional stability. The project would also allow Central Asia to have routes for exporting its rich energy resources that bypass Russia.
Turkmenistan has also signed a 25-year deal to provide gas to Russia, and plans to sign a similar deal with Ukraine -- raising questions about whether there are enough Turkmen resources to cover the country's commitments.

Source: AP
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