The interstate pipeline system retained its value at the time
of independence and is a priority of the republic's economic development
plans. The government has pursued international projects to build
gas pipelines through Iran to Turkey, through Afghanistan to Pakistan,
and through Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China to Japan.
Despite Russia's opposition and United States pressure not to
do so, in August 1994, President Niyazov signed an agreement with
Iran to begin the Turkmenistan-Iran-Turkey-Europe gas pipeline.
The pipeline will extend 4,000 kilometers through Iran, Turkey,
and Bulgaria, with an initial capacity of 15 billion cubic meters
annually, later to be expanded to 28 billion cubic meters. The
project will cost US$8 billion, of which Iran will finance US$3.5
billion, and construction will begin in 1998.
After a Japanese delegation held talks in Ashgabat in 1992,
the Mitsubishi corporation developed plans to build a 6,700-kilometer
gas pipeline through Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, and China to the Yellow
Sea coast opposite Japan, where a natural gas liquefaction plant
will be built to convert the gas prior to shipment. The plan calls
for constructing a pipeline with a capacity of 30 billion cubic
meters annually at a cost of US$12 billion. Turkmenistan, Kazakstan,
and Uzbekistan also have petitioned the Russian Federation to
help them build a new 725-kilometer gas pipeline through Russia
and Ukraine for exporting natural gas to Ukraine and Europe.
Of the two main existing lines, the Shatlik-Khiva line running
south-north from near Saragt to Khiva connects with a pipeline
from the Uzbekistan gas field near Bukhoro. Intersecting this
line is the Mary-Ashgabat line running east-west from near Mary
to Ashgabat. The other main line is the Central Asia-Center line
running north from Okarem to Nebitdag, northwest to the Garabogaz
Gulf on the Caspian Sea, and connecting with the main line to
Europe through Ukraine.
Data as of March 1996