Turkmenistan is rich with opportunities to become a world leader in economic and environmental performance

This article was written during, the Turkmenistan Energy Investment Forum in Paris on 24/25 April, 2024. Our CEO, Mark Davis was on a panel discussing the role of natural gas. This article summarises some of the insights in Mark’s session (“the prospects of natural gas production in an energy transition“) with the complementary one that followed entitled “reduction of methane and CO2 emissions“.

Turkmenistan is a major global energy player (4th largest proven gas reserves), a top-10 oil and gas producer, strategically positioned between Europe and Asia. Today Turkmenistan’s energy is 99.8% dominated by oil and gas production from 30+ fields developed from the 1960s. It is also a major exporter (sending 30 BCM of gas to China – although this will rise to 65 BCM when the 4th pipeline is completed).

The country and the country has abundant opportunities for growth in production (especially in the seven-phase Galkynysh field) and a growing range of gas exports (today to China, Russia and Iran, but potentially also, via new pipelines, to Pakistan, Afghanistan and India – plus also, to Europe). The construction of the Turkmenistan segment of the pipeline destined to India/Pakistan/Afghanistan is already complete. The Galkynysh has a staggering potential of 18 Trillion m3 (according to Gaffney Cline’s Stephen Wright) from a 580 metre column of gas over a staggering area of 3,500 km2, with opportunities in nearby Yashar and Garahol fields.

Turkmenistan is also well positioned to become a global energy hub with a range of diversified energy sources including renewables – as several speakers pointed out.

However to accelerate sustainable progress, it is continuing to accelerate focus on reducing emissions from methane and flaring. As a signatory of the Global Methane Pledge, the country is already committed to substantial reductions by 2030. Almost every speaker in the first session of the conference highlighted the importance of methane, so these sessions were timely. Some excellent progress has been made (see our article published yesterday that highlights the emissions reduction at the Darvaza Crater), but there is more to.

As context, below – the relative performance of Turkmenistan on emissions intensity of the barrel (of oil-equivalent production), based on flaring + venting + leaking gas in the supply chain. As Manfredi Caltagione from the International Methane Observatory said, “[for Turkmenistan] methane is a significant risk or liability, but it is also a significant opportunity“. Tim Gould (Head of Economics at the IEA) demonstrated that a surge in LNG production globally is likely to increase supply of gas to the market, potentially increasing the competitive advantage of “low methane” natural gas. As such, countries have a limited window of opportunity to improve the quality of exported gas.

Turning the figures into absolute numbers, the opportunity for Turkmenistan is material, on a volume, revenue and emissions basis. Up to 8 BCM could be captured and delivered to market. In doing so, Turkmenistan can reduce emissions, increase energy security and help to accelerate the energy transition. ADNOC’s Mohamed Al Aryani (EVP ADNOC international) outlined their company’s approach to gas, that leads to a strong (low) CO2-e intensity per barrel (as highlighted above).

As Tatiana Molcean outlined, “there are some very easy measures that can be taken … including fixing leaking pipelines, improving compressor performance, solving flaring“.

Pleasingly, Magtymguly Akmurador (Advisor to the Department of International Organisations) outlined the steps that Turkmenistan has already taken as part of its commitment under the Global Methane Pledge, including for example, the development of a national climate change strategy, the development of a national inventorisation (of methane+) by the end of May and the setup of a centre of excellence – funded initially by the government – to focus on knowledge development, best practices and knowledge transfer.

As Tim Gould highlights – see figure below – the majority of these emissions can be recovered at a negative marginal abatement cost around $5 per mmbtu – most of which is from leak detection and repair.

Many organisations are keen to help. One such is Capterio, and we provide near real-time data on every flare in Turkmenistan through our platform FlareIntel Pro. Capterio helps companies and governments to (a) improve visibility into flaring, (b) drive continued operational improvements, and (c) identify and deliver on-the-ground investment opportunities.

Other panels outlined solutions, including:

  • Irina Luryeva (Research lead at Turkmengas) outlined the exciting developments on the biggest field – 52 exploration wells, with potential of up to 3 million m3 per day with 10% sour gas
  • Manfredi Caltagirone outlines the role of the International Methane Observatory (which will soon be providing real-time alerts to key personnel in Turkmenistan)
  • Sandillo Banerjee outlined a range of approaches that Climate Compass has taken around the financing of methane abatement with carbon credits.
  • Ayed Al-Qahtani (Head of Research at OPEC) outlined the commitment from OPEC and its members to COP28’s objectives – many of which have signed up to near zero methane and zero routine flaring. Ayed talked about am ambition to have some of the lowest ghg footprint in the world
  • GHG Sat’s Jean-Francois Gauthier outlined the effectiveness of blind tests that confirm the reliability of satelitte-based detections of methane (with +/- 20% errors) with a low rate of false positives. J-F also outlined how action can be delivered quickly if alerts can drive on-the-ground action within hours
  • OGCI’s Pietro Mezzano outlined the “aiming for zero methane” initiative and the OGDC. In the lead-up to COP29, OGCI/OGDC will be ramping up 1-1 training, toolkits, information sharing and more.
  • Yegor Zbordko summarised the tremendous opportunity from methane abatement – citing a 70%+ IRR and paybacks within 2.6 years

Turkmenistan has all to play for and it is clear from the conference attendees that the international community is extremely committed to help drive this economic and environmental performance.