British NGO Alleges Turkmen Leader Conceals Gas Revenues
Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov (right) prays at the opening of a gas compressor station (file photo) (ITAR-TASS)
April 24, 2006 -- A British anticorruption group alleges in a report released today that Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov keeps most of his Central Asian nation's gas earnings off the books.
Global Witness estimated that the country makes more than $2 billion annually from natural-gas exports but that "Niyazov keeps most of the gas revenues under his effective control in overseas and off-budget funds."
It said the policy is depriving the national budget of revenues and fomenting economic instability.
Central Asia Gas Pipelines
Click on the map for an enlarged image.
Russia's rising appetite for Central Asian gas is a direct result of the shifting fortunes of Gazprom, the state-run Russian company that controls lucrative exports. The company's total gas production has flatlined at around 550 billion cubic meters (bcm) a year. With major fields yielding less as they age, Gazprom has chosen to maintain its all-important gas balance by purchasing gas on the side -- from independent producers in Russia and from Russia's Central Asian neighbors -- instead of investing in the lengthy and costly development of untapped Arctic fields...(more)