Turkmenistan opens refurbished power plant, hopes to boost power exports to Afghanistan, Pakistan

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ASHGABAT (TCA) — Gas-rich Turkmenistan has inaugurated a refurbished and expanded Soviet-era power plant that it hopes will help the Central Asian country boost electricity exports to Afghanistan and Pakistan, RFE/RL reported.

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov on September 8 attended ceremonies for the opening of the $1.2 billion electricity plant near the country’s southeastern region of Mary.

Berdymukhammedov said capacities at the rebuilt plant will allow the country to export an additional 3 billion kilowatt-hours per year to neighboring countries.

The expansion work was conducted by Turkish firm Calik Holding and General Electric of the United States.

The plant is part of efforts by Turkmenistan to diversify its economy, which overwhelmingly depends on natural-gas exports for revenue.

Turkmenistan, which sits on the world’s fourth-largest reserves of natural gas, earlier halted gas shipments to Iran, claiming that Tehran owed it $1.8 billion for previous gas supplies.

The head of Turkmenistan’s state-controlled Turkmengas company, Myrat Archayev, has said negotiations with Tehran over the dispute have been unsuccessful, and the case is set to go to international arbitration.

In addition, Russia in 2016 stopped buying natural gas from Turkmenistan. With the cutoff of supplies to Iran, Ashgabat is now left with China as its sole customer.

Turkmenistan’s efforts to develop gas pipelines to Europe and India have yet to materialize after years of negotiations.

Sergey Kwan

TCA