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.
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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)