August 24, 2007 / 10:41 AM / 12 years ago

BP eyes "unique" energy resources of Turkmenistan

ASHGABAT (Reuters) - Oil major BP (BP.L) is willing to invest into “unique” oil and gas resources of the former Soviet Union’s Central Asian republic of Turkmenistan, a BP executive said on Friday after meeting the Turkmen leader.

Andy Inglis, chief executive of BP’s exploration and production business, met Turkmenistan’s president Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov on Friday and according to local media highlighted the country’s great prospects in the energy sector.

“We are confident that Turkmenistan has unique oil and gas resources and believe that our participation in their development could be a profitable business,” Inglis told Turkmen state television through an interpreter.

Turkmenistan produces around 200,000 barrels per day of crude and is the biggest gas producer in the former Soviet Union after Russia with exports of around 50 billion cubic metres of gas a year, mainly to Russia and Ukraine.

The country says its gas reserves are currently heavily underestimated and it can easily double and even triple production to supply gas to Europe and Asia.

International competition for Turkmen resources has intensified since the death of autocratic leader Saparmurat Niyazov last year as analysts say the new leadership is trying to improve the country’s investment climate.

Turkmen officials have said they would support energy export route diversification, implying that Russia would stop being the monopoly buyer of gas and fuel may start flowing to China or across the Caspian Sea to Europe.

BP is the leader of the oil and gas industry in Azerbaijan — across the Caspian Sea from Turkmenistan — but has much weaker positions in the neighbouring Kazakhstan.

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