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14.10.03á19:19

MILLIONS IN "PIPELINE"
TURKMENISTAN WILL INCREASE THE CAPACITY OF ITS STRETCH OF THE "NORTHERN" PIPELINE TO 100 BILLION CUBIC METERS

Turkmenistan, the largest gas producer in Central Asia, is going to increase the capacity of its stretch of the arterial gas pipeline Central Asia - Center (CAC) to 100 bcm per year already by 2004, a source in the Turkmen government told Reuters.

As the western press reports, in the mean time it will require increasing the capacity of the Uzbek and Kazakh stretches of pipeline, which today stands at 40-50 bcm a year. In fact, a draft project worth $1,5 bln on expansion of the Kazakh stretch of the CAC pipeline to 90 bcm for 10 years is under preliminary evaluation.

"The export capacity of the Turkmen stretch of the CAC pipeline will be raised to 100 bcm by 2004 thanks to reconstruction of a gas export system inside the country worth $730 mln. The works are on in the country's eastern and western parts", a representative of the Turkmen government said.

The project provides for construction of bypassing gas networks, several line compressor stations (KS), modernization at western fields of Belek and Goturdepe and reconstruction of a pipeline for gas supply from the working fields in the Caspian coastal zone.

The CAC is a key export pipeline for Turkmenistan. There is only one pipeline to Iran that bypasses the Russian's Gasprom-controlled CAC pipeline. According to Kazakhstan's information Turkmenistan will supply 37 bcm of gas to Ukraine and Russia through the CAC pipeline in 2003. Next year's contracts provide for 46 bcm of gas supplies.

As the source in the Turkmen Government said, Ashgabat is negotiating a long-term gas agreement with the Ukrainians.

Gasprom has become the first company, with which Turkmenistan concluded a 25-year agreement after tough negotiations. Starting from 2005 Gasprom intends to buy up to 10 bcm of gas per year, and from 2009 the amount will rise to 70-80 bcm. Meanwhile, Ashgabat declared its readiness to supply 80 bcm of gas to Russia starting from 2007, hoping to finish construction of the Caspian pipeline by that time.

"Taking into account wide-range agreements, the CAC pipeline capacity will not be enough in the long run. That is why we hope that a new gas pipeline with the capacity of 30-40 bcm per year will be built by 2007", the representative of the Turkmen Government said.

According to the project, approved in principle by Moscow and Kiev, a main source of gas for a gas pipeline in the direction of Alexandrov-Guy (Saratov region of Russia) will be untapped reserves of the Turkmen Caspian shelf. No intergovernmental document has been signed so far to this effect.

Turkmenistan plans to increase gas output to 61,6 bcm in 2003 from 53,5 bcm last year.

The total amount of natural gas exports from Turkmenistan rose by 5,6% to 39,3 bcm in 2002. Turkmenistan produced 51,3 bcm of gas and exported 37,2 bcm of gas in 2001.

Reuters, 13.10.03

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