Responding to volatility in the global energy markets, particularly in the Eurasian continent, Turkmenistan has started the year 2022 with focus on further development of its enormous hydrocarbon resources. The purpose is to help bolster energy security of Asia and Europe.
President Berdimuhamedov visited on 3 January 2022 the Galkynysh gas field in the Mary province of Turkmenistan, and on 4 January 2022 the Malay gas field in the Lebap province.
This is the largest mainland gas field in the world and the second largest overall.
At the Galkynysh field, on 3 January 2022, the president attended a presentation given by:
- Director of the Natural Gas Research Institute of the State Concern Turkmengaz
- Chairman of the State Corporation Turkmengeologiýa
- Chairman of the State Concern Türkmengaz
- Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Shakhym Abdrakhmanov responsible for the oil and gas sector
The presentation covered several areas including:
- The exploration activity in Galkynysh and adjoining fields,
- The work being done to fully automate the processes at the Galkynyş field related to the extraction, collection, processing of gas
- The development of advanced scientific practices to increase the volume of extracted resources
- Training of specialists
- The geological exploration works carried out in other parts of the country, their features, and scientific experiments conducted in this field
- The investments aimed at the development of the industry and comprehensive work aimed at increasing the volume of natural gas production and diversifying its transportation
- The general state of affairs in the oil and gas industry, the steps taken to increase its export potential, as well as the drilling of new oil and gas wells
The president noted with appreciation the promising results obtained during exploration work at the Günorta Mary field which is in the vicinity of Galkynysh.
The Galkynysh field, previously known as Osman-Yoloton, covers an area of 2700 square km – 90km in length and 30km in width. The gas is found at depths 3900 to 5100 meters. It encompasses Yoloton, Minara, Osman and Yashlar fields.
In addition to Günorta Mary, the other fields in the general area of Galkynysh are Garaköl, Giurgiu, Gazanly, Gundogar Eloten and Gunbatar Yandakly.
The president said that total reserves of Galkynysh, together with Yashlar and Garaköl were estimated at 27.4 trillion cubic meters of natural gas.
The experts opine that with further confirmation of the potential of Günorta Mary field, and if the decision is taken to merge it with Galkynysh group of fields, the overall reserves of this area will rise significantly.
On 4 January 2022, before leaving for the Lebap province, President Berdimuhamedov had another meeting with the same team. The scope was broad this time and the reports were presented about the exploration and development work being done in the entire territory of Turkmenistan.
The president underlined the need for innovative approaches and speeding up the process of transition to digital management of the oil and gas sector.
He asked the industry leaders to take steps to further expand the mutually beneficial cooperation with all the stakeholders including the major oil and gas companies.
He said that relations should also be developed with the world’s leading specialized educational institutions, using the capabilities of modern communication systems and digital technologies, which will train highly qualified personnel for the oil and gas industry and conduct scientific and experimental work.
About Galkynysh Field
The reserves of Galkynysh, together with the Yashlar and Garakol fields, are estimated at almost 27 trillion cubic meters.
Intensive prospecting and exploration work there was started by the State Corporation “Turkmengeology” in the 2000s. At the same time, each of the wells, which gave industrial inflows of hydrocarbon raw materials, contained several productive horizons located at different depths.
In December 2009, the State Concern “Turkmengas” signed contracts with “CNPC Chuanging Drilling Engineering Company Limited” (China), “Gulf Oil & Gas Fze” and “Petrofac International (UAE) LLC” (UAE) and the consortium of companies “LG International Corp.” and “Hyundai Engineering Co. Ltd” (South Korea), providing for the design and construction of production wells and surface facilities at the Galkynysh field.
To accelerate the pace of this work, there were attracted – $8.1 billion loans, provided by the State Development Bank of China (CDB), in accordance with the Framework Agreement signed between the Government of Turkmenistan and the Government of the PRC. Separate loan agreements, for a period of 7 and 10 years, were concluded between the State Concern “Turkmengas”, CDB and PetroChina. Currently, these borrowed funds have been fully repaid.
As part of the first stage of the industrial development of Galkynysh, carried out by the State Concern “Turkmengas” together with foreign partners, there were built 22 wells and two gas processing complexes with a total capacity of 30 billion cubic meters of commercial gas per year. They include units for primary treatment of hydrocarbon feedstock, gas purification and dehydration, stabilization of hydrocarbon condensate, as well as units for granulating and packing sulfur, equipped with modern machinery. A large amount of work was carried out on the construction of engineering and communication networks, a gas turbine power plant with a capacity of 75 MW, water, gas and energy supply systems, and access roads.
President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping took part in the solemn ceremony of launching these facilities, which took place on September 4, 2013. This event became another evidence of the successfully developing strategic partnership of Turkmenistan with the PRC.
At the moment, there are 45 wells in the operating fund of the field, the area of which is more than 4 thousand square kilometers, the flow rate of each of them, on average, is equal to two million cubic meters of gas per day.
However, there is a high likelihood that the field is going beyond the boundaries of the existing area in the northwest and southeast directions. Upon receiving additional information, the estimate of Galkynysh gas reserves may be revised upward.
The Galkynysh field serves as one of the raw materials sources of the Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline, in which the idea of rebuilding the Great Silk Road for millennia has connected the peoples of Eurasia, has been embodied.
Commissioned in December 2009 with the participation of the leaders of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and China, the pipeline is designed to supply 40 billion cubic meters of Turkmen gas per year, and the throughput capacity of its three lines (A, B and C) is 55 billion cubic meters.
In July 2021, the President of Turkmenistan signed a Resolution, according to which the State Concern “Turkmengas” will conclude a contract with “CNPC Chuanqing Drilling Engineering Company Limited” (PRC) to complete the construction and commissioning of three gas wells, which are of particular difficulty. As expected, the debit of each of them, on average, will be equal to three million cubic meters of gas per day. The project is designed for 30 months, in accordance with the agreement signed in 2007, payment for the company’s services will be carried out through the supply of natural gas to the PRC within three years.
On 4 January 2022, President Berdimuhamedov traveled to Lebap province where he visited the Malay gas field.
Located on the left bank of the Amudarya River, Malay is one of the major gas fields of Turkmenistan. A pipeline runs across the river and connects Malay with the Bagtyyar field which is the mainland gas PSA of CNPC. The gas extracted from Malay field is transported to Bagtyyarlyk and from there it is piped to China through the Turkmenistan-China (Central-Asia-China) gas pipeline.
The president listened to the presentation given by the same team of senior officials that had briefed the president at the Galkynysh field.
It was emphasized that the exploration work had led to increase in the volume of estimated reserves.
The president noted that the successful exploration work had increased the gas reserved of Turkmenistan by 126 billion cubic meters.
He added that natural gas is not just a fuel; it is used in the production of many household and construction goods. Considering that polyethylene and polypropylene obtained from it are widely used in the manufacture of various products, including carpets and fertilizers, as well as environmentally friendly vehicle fuel, Turkmen natural gas is a very valuable and important raw material in industrial production, he said.
Appreciating the work of the industry leaders, the president said that the fuel and energy complex faces three main tasks: 1. Industrialization of the oil and gas sector; 2. providing domestic consumers with appropriate products; and, 3. increasing the export potential of the industry.
It is worth recalling that on 15 January 2021, a gas compressor station was put into operation aat the Malay field.
With annual capacity of 30 bcm (billion cubic meters) the compressor station added to the capacity of Turkmenistan to supply natural gas to China. It was built by the British company Petro Gas LLP by the order of the State Concern Turkmengaz.
The complex, which occupies about 12 hectares, includes two production workshops – «A» and «B». The first of them will make it able to fully develop the Malay field. The second workshop is designed for high-pressure pumping of gas from the Uchadzhi, Galkynysh and Dovletabat fields to the Malay-Bagtyyarlyk gas pipeline, which is the first link of the Turkmenistan-China interstate gas pipeline.
There are 6 sets of gas compressor equipment supplied by the French company «Dresser-Rand S.A.». All processes are controlled centrally – from the control room, using electronics and special software.
In addition, there are installations for gas cooling and purification, nitrogen and oxygen production, a spare diesel power plant and a water heating station, buildings for the central control of operators, and an administrative office, a workshop for mechanical repair and fire safety, etc.
The Malay gas field was put into pilot production in 1986. Today, 91 wells operate here. This gas production complex reliably provides «blue fuel» to settlements, as well as facilities for various purposes in the eastern region of the country.
The pipeline that transports the gas from Malay to Bagtyyarlyk PSA area was built Stroytransgaz, a subsidiary of Gazprom.
It was a great feat of engineering as the laying of the pipe across the bed of Amudarya River was an enormous challenge.
The contract was awarded to Stroytransgaz in 2008 and the pipeline together with its other components was put into operation in October 2012.
The contract included engineering, procurement and construction of gas drying units, a self-supporting metering unit, and the linear section of the Malay-Bagtyyarlyk gas pipeline (length – 184.54 kilometers, diameter – 1,420 millimeters), including:
- launcher and receiver stations for cleaning units;
- seven line valve units;
- f 2.2-km beam crossing of the Amu Darya River;
- five road and railroad crossings;
- two helicopter pads;
- 201 km of electric power lines
- fiber-optical communication lines (total length -201.9 km);
- radio-relay transmission lines;
- electrochemical protection systems;
- telemechanical systems (SCADA);
- a line operational base.
The section of the pipeline crossing the river is 1750 meters in length and 1400 mm in diameters. This is the first submerged crossing in the world on this scale. It is designed to ensure the ecological integrity of the Amudarya River.
There is lots of natural gas in Turkmenistan and more has been added to the known reserves because of the recent exploration work.
The question is, where will this gas go?
Obviously, China will be the main recipient of additional volumes and the infrastructure is available to carry it.
The TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) pipeline is poised for implementation with the Taliban declaring full support for it. Financing of this project is a question that can answer itself.
The answer is in a flexible formula of Private-Public-Private Partnership.
Here is how.
Afghanistan is a conundrum. It is a poor country with plenty of super rich businessmen.
Among the many things that Afghanistan urgently needs are: 1. Cement; 2. Fertilizers; and 3. Electricity.
The production process of all of these requires heavy volumes of natural gas.
For TAPI to happen at accelerated pace, one option is to identify the businessmen in Afghanistan who could be interested in setting up at least one cement factory, one fertilizer plant, and two power generation plants.
The TAPI portion passing through Afghanistan can be divided into four segments of about 200km each. The party that desires to establish a cement factory, or a fertilizer plant or a power generation plant can be asked to build the designated segment of TAPI in the territory where their industrial unit will be located. They finance the TAPI segment in their assigned territory and draw the agreed volume of gas for their use.
To add flexibility to this arrangement, Turkmenistan can identify its own private companies to purchase the gas from the government and sell it to the Afghan business houses that are setting up the industries.
The pipe should be as per the currently planned capacity and metering devices should be installed at each exit point. The bulk of gas, therefore, will be transported in a pipe built by the private sector but managed by the project consortium. With metering devices at every exit point, it will be easy to measure the volumes of gas withdrawn in Afghanistan and the volumes delivered at the border of Pakistan.
This is the shape of Private-Public-Private Partnership that can serve everyone satisfactorily.
As far as the supplies of gas to Europe are concerned, another kind of flexibility will solve the long standing puzzle.
Is it really necessary to build a pipeline across the Caspian bed to transport Turkmen gas to Azerbaijan and further on to Europe through Georgia and Turkey?
Why not start with CNG?
We have proposed in the past too that the easiest solution and the attainable alternative to a pipeline is the delivery of gas through CNG carriers.
Hardly any infrastructure is required for this.
A CNG carrier takes the gas from the mainland or offshore terminal and compresses it before transferring it to the compress-gas tank in the vessel. At the delivery point, it has its own decompression unit for bringing the gas back to normal pressure and pumping it to the receiving terminal.
One of the many advantages of this solution is that the number of CNG carriers can be increased or decreased according to the demand of the market.
Also, Caspian is not the only route for the Turkmen gas to go to Europe.
If we can somehow lower the artificially created political barriers, Iran is a good route for the delivery of Turkmen gas to the European markets.
Also the Central-Asia-Centre pipeline which passes through the territory of Russia is a reliable way of delivering Turkmen gas to Europe, at least some parts of Europe. This has been done in the past and this can be done again.
There is natural gas in Turkmenistan and there are markets in every direction. All what we need is flexibility in approach. /// nCa, 5 January 2022 (some parts of report taken from websites of Turkmengas, Nebit-Gas, Stoytransgaz)