Natural resources, energy and environment
Turkmenistan is one of the world's largest
producers of natural gas. The supply of oil is also
significant. There are also plenty of mineral salts,
which are mainly extracted in the Gulf of Kara-Bogaz-Gol
on the Caspian Sea. Brown coal deposits have also been
Gas and oil pipelines were pulled over Soviet
territory during the Soviet era (c. 1920–1991), which,
after Turkmenistan's independence in 1991, became an
obstacle to gas and oil exports to countries other than
former Soviet republics. Conflicts with Russia mainly on
oil and gas prices led to Turkmenistan gradually
breaking its dependence on the former Soviet market.
Major exports by Turkmenistan with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
In 1997, the first pipeline to Iran was completed and
in 2009 a gas pipeline was opened for China via
Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The following year, a second
gas pipeline was opened for Iran, at the same time as
Turkmen oil began pumping via Azerbaijan (where it is
transported in tankers) and Georgia to the Turkish port
city of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean. Thus, Turkmenistan
could export to Europe without going through Russia.
Turkmenistan has subsequently concluded an agreement
with Afghanistan, Pakistan and India to build a gas
pipeline to these countries.
Natural gas is extracted from fields on land and out
in the Caspian Sea. The state gas company Türkmengaz
controls the oil and gas industry, but the extraction is
done in collaboration with a number of foreign companies
from, for example, China, South Korea, the US and Dubai.
Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, TM stands for Turkmenistan.
One problem is that there are not enough refineries
in the country for processing the oil before export. An
expansion of capacity is ongoing and is expected to be
completed by 2030.
The gas and oil resources mean that Turkmenistan has
no energy supply problems. Electricity is generated in
gas-fired thermal power plants. The surplus electricity
is exported to Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan, among
Turkmenistan is struggling with major environmental
problems. Along the shores of the Caspian Sea, seals
were once a common sight. Nowadays, about a tenth of the
stock that remained a century ago remains. The species
is considered endangered by hunting and industrial
emissions, not least from oil recovery.
The UN environmental program Unep has warned against
large quantities of uncontaminated wastewater, but also
radioactive substances from nuclear power plants. Much
of the pollution reaches the lake via the Volga River in
Russia, which flows into the Caspian Sea. The stock of
the valuable deer, which is fished for caviar, has also
The water shortage is extensive. Turkmenistan's
ambition during the Soviet era to become a major cotton
producer has contributed to one of the world's worst
environmental disasters. Huge amounts of artificial
fertilizers and pesticides have been used and extensive
expansion of irrigation has almost drained the Aral Sea,
located in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The Karakum Canal,
which was built by Soviet prisoners, divert water from
the Amu-Darja River to the cotton fields. This means
that the Aral Sea is largely replaced by the salt
desert. Subsequently, the winds have spread the salt
northwards where the soil is slowly destroyed and the
water becomes undrinkable. In 2007, according to some
sources, the Aral Sea had shrunk to a tenth of its
original size, but since then the water level is said to
have increased again.
Also, a dam building in the secluded bay of Kara-Bogaz-Gol
in the Caspian Sea in the 1980s caused great
environmental damage. The construction is believed to
have changed the water level in the large lake, which in
turn led to drought and flooding.
Despite these experiences and several warnings from
environmental organizations, the former President
Nijazov in 2000 launched an idea to create an artificial
lake in the Karakum desert. The lake is intended to
become a reservoir for irrigation. Work on building the
lake began in 2002 and is expected to take a couple of
decades to complete.
FACTS - ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
5,040 kilos of oil equivalents (2014)
Electricity consumption per person
2759 kilowatt hours, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
68 423 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
12.5 tonnes (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
0.0 percent (2015)
The promised land of corruption
The organization Transparency International ranks Turkmenistan as the world's
third most corrupt country.
The President becomes the "hero of the nation"
Parliament is voting for a proposal to give President Berdimuhamedow the
title of "hero of the nation" - an epithet that Nijazov was awarded three times.
Explosion in weapons storage
An explosion in an armory outside Ashgabat requires many casualties. The
regime states that the death toll is 15, while other sources say hundreds of
people may have been killed.
New cult of personality under construction
President Berdimuhamedow is honored with the honorary title "Arkadag" (The
Guardian of the Mountains). Critics fear that the president is developing his
own personal cult, similar to what Nijazov created around himself (see Modern
Nijazov's book is deleted from the syllabus
The compulsory degree in compulsory schools on the content of Nijazov's book
Ruhnama is abolished by the government. The compulsory university courses on
Ruhnama are also abandoned.