Russia has doubled the imports of natural gas from Turkmenistan this year, Moscow's ambassador in Ashgabat told reporters on December 24.
Russia this year stands to buy about 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas from Turkmenistan, nearly twice the amount purchased in 2020, Ambassador Aleksandr Blokhin said.
Relatively cheap imports of gas from Turkmenistan and other Central Asian countries have enabled Russia to boost its exports to Europe.
This year's volumes were on a par with the period before 2016, when Russia halted gas imports from Turkmenistan amid pricing disputes.
The move put significant pressure on Turkmenistan's economy, which is highly dependent on hydrocarbons as a source of hard currency.
Russia's state-owned energy giant Gazprom resumed the purchases of Turkmen gas in 2019 when it signed a five-year contract envisaging annual deliveries of 5.5 billion cubic meters.
Russia was once the leading importer of Turkmen gas until it was displaced by China in 2010. Turkmenistan annually exports up to 40 bcm of gas to China.
Turkmenistan owns the world's fourth-largest known reserves of natural gas but has limited infrastructure to export its energy resources.
Earlier in 2021, China’s state-owned CNPC started work to set up new wells at Turkmenistan’s giant natural gas fields in exchange for future gas supplies.
Turkmenistan also hopes to export gas to India and Pakistan via Afghanistan in the future. However, the construction of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-India-Pakistan (TAPI) gas pipeline has been stalled for many years.
The 1,800-kilometer pipeline is expected to carry 33 bcm of natural gas each year from Galkynysh, the world's second-biggest gas field, to the Indian city of Fazilka near the Pakistani border.
Turkmenistan has already built its segment of the pipeline, but it remains unclear when the remaining length of the pipeline will be constructed.