MOSCOW (MRC) -- Turkmenistan opened a railway link to Afghanistan on Monday, 28 November, to boost exports of fuel as the gas-rich but cash-strapped nation seeks to ease its dependence on China and Russia, reported Reuters.
The former Soviet republic mostly exports natural gas and its revenues have dwindled after Moscow, once the main buyer, halted purchases this year, leading to a shortage of foreign currency in the isolated desert nation.
The volume of gas sales to China, the current main buyer, is limited by pipeline capacity.
The Turkmen part of the 88-km link ends at the Ymamnazar customs control point where Turkmenistan has built an oil product terminal with an annual capacity of 540,000 t.
It was unclear by what percentage the rail link and the terminal could increase Turkmen fuel exports, because Ashgabat does not publish any data on physical volumes of such sales.
Turkmenistan produces about 10 MMt of oil a year, most of which it refines domestically, and oil products account for about 10% of total Turkmen exports. That share could increase as the country, unable to sell large quantities of natural gas, processes it into liquid fuels.
On the Afghan side, the link goes to the Aqina dry port in the Faryab province, but there are plans to extend it further. The Turkmen government said in a statement the railway would become part of longer link that would eventually connect landlocked Central Asia to China and Southeast Asia.
Turkmenistan is a country boasting abundant reserves of natural gas, and it has been maintaining high economic growth with the export of natural gas. The country is a promising market with strong investment potential, especially in petroleum and gas fields.
We remind that, as MRC wrote previously, in the export trades of Turkmenistan's State Commodity and Raw Materials Exchange, 10,000 tonnes of polypropylene (PP) were sold. On 4 November, Turkmenbashi Gas Processing Plant's 10,000 tonnes of PP were put up for auction in the export trades of the State Commodity and Raw Materials Exchange of Turkmenistan. The put up for action PP was aimed for shipments within 10 months at a starting price of USD830/tonne, FCA/FOB port of Turkmenbashi.