US pay for study on transport of Turkmenistan gas under Caspian Sea
The U.S. Trade Development Agency (TDA) has awarded a $ 750,000 grant to Turkmenistan to pay for a feasibility study
on the best way to transport Turkmenistan's natural gas by pipeline under the Caspian Sea.
The money for the study coincides with the first official visit by Turkmenistan's president to Washington, and follows several energy deals that Turkmenistan's government reached with U.S. companies recently.
The Clinton administration has been encouraging Turkmenistan to choose a different pipeline route, other than one that would go through Iran, for transporting its natural gas to Turkey. It is estimated that Turkmenistan holds the fourth largest natural gas reserves in the world.
The study will look at two possible pipeline routes.
One would be a new East-West pipeline across Turkmenistan and under the Caspian Sea, then coming onshore across Azerbaijan and Georgia before ending in Turkey.
The other option would follow the same route, but instead of building a completely new pipeline, the feasibility study would look at the cost of rehabilitating an older pipeline and connecting it with a new pipeline constructed on part of the route.
The feasibility study will be put for bid, but the winning company, which must be based in the United States, will be
chosen by the Turkmenistan government, the TDA official said. The TDA is an independent agency that helps U.S.
companies establish business in emerging markets.
The study is scheduled for completion by this autumn, the official said.
During his visit in the US Turkmenistan president Saparmurad Niyazov oversaw the signing of separate energy deals
with Mobil and Exxon at Blair House, located across the street from the White House.
Mobil entered into an agreement with its U.K.-based partner Monument Oil and Gas and the state oil company of Turkmenistan, Turkmenneft, to explore and develop energy resources in the western part of the country.
In 1997, Mobil became the first international oil and gas company to invest in Turkmenistan, joining Monument Oil in a production sharing agreement with the Turkmenistan government to develop and explore for energy resources in a 2,000 sq km area in western Turkmenistan.
Oil output in the area, which began earlier this year, is currently 10,000 bpd and is expected to increase to 20,000 bpd by end of 1998, Mobil said.
Under the deal with Exxon, the company will conduct a technical study of 46,600 sq km on the right bank of the
Amu-Darya River in Turkmenistan, which contains discovered and undiscovered oil and gas resources.
In addition, the Turkmenistan government expanded a joint co-operation agreement it has with Houston-based Western Atlas Inc for the development of a seismic database of the country's oil and gas fields. Dallas-based Halliburton Co. also entered into an energy deal with Turkmenistan.