Niyazov told a cabinet meeting broadcast today that foreign companies would be allowed to work in energy fields in Turkmenistan's section of the Caspian Sea only if they treat Turkmenistan as "an equal partner."
Niyazov added that a number of foreign companies have shown an interest in the Gasankuli oil field on the shores of the Caspian Sea. He did not name them.
Niyazov also set a target for his country to produce 10 million tons of oil and 80 billion cubic meters of natural gas this year.
Turkmenistan is the second-largest gas producer in the former Soviet Union.
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HOW MUCH OIL? The U.S. Energy Information Administration has estimated that the Caspian could hold between 17 billion and 33 billion barrels of proven oil. ("Proven reserves" are defined by energy experts to be 90 percent probable.) Other experts estimate the Caspian could hold "possible reserves" of up to 233 billion barrels of oil. ("Possible reserves" are considered to be 50 percent probable.) By comparison, Saudi Arabia has 261 billion barrels of oil and the United States 23 billion...(more)