DUBAI, March 13 Turkmenistan aims to start production by July at the Galkynysh natural gas field, the world's second largest, its minister of oil and gas said on Wednesday as the country seeks to boost exports of the fuel and diversify its markets.
"In June-July we should start operating," Mukhammednur Halylov told a conference in Dubai. He did not give further details.
The Central Asian country plans to build two pipelines to carry gas from the field, one to Pakistan and India and the other crossing the Caspian Sea en route to the European Union, easing the bloc's dependance on Russian gas.
Former Soviet republic Turkmenistan's natural gas reserves rank fourth in the world behind those of Russia, Iran and Qatar, BP data shows.
Auditor Gaffney, Cline & Associates has estimated reserves at the Galkynysh field at between 13.1 trillion and 21.2 trillion cubic metres - by far the country's biggest field.
Only the South Pars field between Qatar and Iran and Qatar is larger.
"Major works are being conducted at Galkynysh and the reserves are proven by an independent auditing company," Kakageldy Abdullayev, chairman of Turkmen National gas company TurkmenGas said in remarks translated into English.
He said TurkmenGas was supplying around 20 billion cubic metres a year to China, which would rise to 65 billion cubic metres by 2020.
Abdullayev said China was not Turkmenistan's only focus, but it was a significant market in achieving the country's aim to diversify its outlets.
China, the world's top energy consumer and heavy user of coal, is set to triple gas use in the coming decade after a similar leap over the past 10 years, as it tries to control pollution.
Imports of pipeline gas, mostly from Turkmenistan, grew by more than half during the period, while that of liquefied natural gas expanded 20 percent, with Qatar and Australia the top two suppliers, according to Chinese customs.
"We are open to everyone; Russia, China, India, Pakistan. We are not focusing on one country," Abdullayev said. (Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Anthony Barker)