ASHGABAT Nov 21 Turkmenistan has given China
National Petroleum Corporation a $152 million contract to help
explore a deposit that Turkmen officials say contains seven
trillion cubic metres of natural gas.
President Saparmurat Niyazov said in an official decree that
CNPC would get a three-year contract to help drill 12 gas wells
at the South Yolotan field and other locations.
State-owned CNPC, China's biggest oil and gas producer, was
not available for comment. The contract, agreed at a time when
China is seeking to secure energy supplies in Central Asia, was
only for drilling and no further details were provided.
Niyazov announced the discovery of the field earlier this
month, describing it as "massive".
Turkmenistan, Central Asia's biggest gas exporter, has not
disclosed the results of an international audit of its reserves.
If the find is confirmed, it would dwarf Russia's big
Shtokman field. Russian media have quoted sources at Russia's
gas export monopoly Gazprom (GAZP.MM) as saying the company
doubted the Turkmen assessment of the South Yolotan reserves.
Turkmenistan produces about 60 billion cubic metres of gas a
year. Gazprom buys most of the gas and controls Turkmen export