Turkmenistan starts pumping gas from vast field

YOLOTAN, Turkmenistan (AP) — Turkmenistan began pumping natural gas Wednesday from a vast field near the Afghan border that will help it more than double exports to China in the coming years.

Chinese President Xi Jinping joined Turkmenistan’s president, Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov, for the start of gas production at the South Yolotan field in the former Soviet republic in Central Asia

Independent British auditor Gaffney, Cline & Associates estimates that South Yolotan may hold up to 21.2 trillion cubic meters (750 trillion cubic feet) of gas, potentially making it the second-largest reserve of gas in the world after the South Pars field that is shared between Iran and Qatar.

Turkmenistan is set to boost its gas exports to China to 65 billion cubic meters per year by 2020, up from 25 billion cubic meters this year, according to Turkmen energy officials.

The initial three production facilities, expected to produce a total of 30 billion cubic meters of gas annually, were built in a barren desert by China’s CNPC, South Korea’s LG International Corp. and Hyundai Engineering, and Petrofac International of the United Arab Emirates.

Gas from South Yolotan also is expected eventually to help supply a planned pipeline that would pass through Afghanistan and Pakistan and end up in India.

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