The revised law, adopted at a session of the Mejlis in Ashgabat on 6 December, says that all oil and gas deals must be signed by the president. In addition, the president’s permission must be sought before any oil and gas exploration can be launched.
The law effectively means that the state-run oil and gas companies Turkmengaz and Turkmennebit can no longer independently sign any contracts with foreign firms or independently launch exploration projects.
These developments follow a recent proposal by Niyazov to establish a special government group to tackle bribery in the country's oil and gas sector. Niyazov has publicly stated that Turkmen oil and gas officials openly take bribes from foreign companies. The new body will be headed by the president himself.