Turkmenistan’s status as a gas giant and large scale provider to both East and West has expanded rapidly during the course of the last several years, and only looks to expand further as it announced plans to rapidly scale up existing infrastructure in order to accommodate the increasing needs of the European Union. The Turkmen Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources recently issued a statement that affirmed that the nation will undertake $2b in pipeline construction, the majority of which is set to run through the country’s Galkinish field into pipelines that will measure up to 766 kilometers in lengths.
Constructing pipelines leading to European markets are not the only such projects being undertaken by the Turkmen government. Efforts to branch into new markets have led officials in Ashgabat to sign and/or renew lucrative trade deals with officials in Moscow, Beijing and Tehran, amongst others. Turkmen-Iranian relations have long been steeped in gas and oil trade, and are considered by officials in Tehran to be amongst the most important for the Gulf nation. Similarly, Turkmenistan has gained Moscow’s favor, striking a deal that sees large amounts of Turkmen gas funneled across Russia’s southern borders via the Central Asia-Center pipeline routed through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
As greater reserves of gas continue to be found within Turkmenistan, the country has looked to develop oil reserves found in the Turkmen shelf of the Caspian Sea. It is estimated that over 12 billion tons of oil and 6.5 trillion cubic meters of natural gas remain exploited in the resource-rich Turkmen Caspian, and officials moved quickly to develop it in conjunction with foreign companies, having already opened up 32 licensed blocks to outside tender.
- Mongolian authorities have set into motion an initiative destined to reinstate more than 100 mining licenses that were revoked last year by authorities looking to protect the country’s mineral deposits from over-zealous international mining conglomerates. In order to spur further investment within the country, the Mongolian Ministry of Mining will even seek to replace funds that companies lost in a series of judicial actions that rapidly cut off a majority of mining operations within the country.
- Favorable estimates emanating from Dushanbe, Tajikistan calculate that Tajik energy authorities will be able to generate up to 6 billion kilowatts of energy to neighboring Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan, an amount that could meet both nations’ electricity needs during the summer months. Kyrgyzstan will almost certainly look upon energy cooperation favorably due to its own summer energy shortage, as will the Afghan government provided that existing power transmission infrastructure is strengthened. Power lines connecting Afghanistan with Tajikistan currently do not allow for substantial transmission of hydroelectric energy.
- Russian authorities gleefully reported the “destruction” of three separatist gunmen in the country’s southwestern region of Dagestan on Sunday. The slayed gunmen are alleged to have planned terror attacks scheduled around Labor Day holidays held in Russia during early May. The identities of the men have not been released, and greater detail surrounding the planned terror attack is still unavailable.
- Pro-Russia separatist forces in eastern Ukraine have taken a number of Western military observers hostage, and have begun to parade them around eastern cities in a show of defiance to what has been labeled as “western interference.” Seven observers from Poland, Denmark, Sweden and the Czech Republic were among those detained, having arrived in Ukraine as members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Separatist forces label the observers as spies and have thus far resisted pleas to release their hostages.
- Eurasia Net reports on efforts made by Tajikistan’s government to cut off streams of funds destined for opposition figure Mhiddin Kabiri, leader of Tajikistan’s Islamic Renaissance Party. Courts in Dushanbe have already ruled to seize assets belonging to Kabiri, and previously barred him from running against incumbent President Emomalii Rahmon in November’s presidential elections. Recent moves to curb Kabiri’s fundraising can be understood as a means of discouraging opposition candidates from running in this year’s parliamentary elections.