Turkmenistan is an important supplier of raw materials, especially natural gas, petroleum products, and raw cotton. With the estimated 2009 harvest of about 823,000 tons, Turkmenistan is the second-largest cotton producer in the former Soviet Union after Uzbekistan. However, the crop yield has been steadily declining since independence because of poor irrigation and management practices.
Outside estimates place Turkmenistan's proven natural gas reserves of 7.94 trillion cubic meters (tcm) among those of the top four of gas-producing countries. A 2008 audit conducted by the British firm Gaffney, Cline and Associates concluded that the three most significant gas fields in the country, Yoloten, Osman, and Yashlar, hold between 4.25 and 15.5 tcm of natural gas.
In 2008, Turkmenistan was the second-largest gas producer in the former Soviet Union after Russia with estimated production around 70 billion cubic meters (bcm). Turkmenistan’s 2009 production declined to about 34 bcm. Gas production declined significantly when exports to Russia stopped on April 9, 2009, following a blast on the Central Asia-Center gas pipeline. Gas exports to Russia resumed at a reduced level (approximately 10.5 bcm/year) and price in January 2010.
Since the end of 2009, Turkmenistan has been exporting natural gas in three directions: to Russia, Iran, and China. In 2010, exports to Russia are projected to total 10-11 bcm, which will be exported through the old pipeline system built during the Soviet era. Gas exports to Iran will reportedly reach 7-8 bcm in 2010. Turkmen gas to Iran will be exported through two pipelines: Korpeje-Kurtkuyi (built in 1997) and Dowletabat-Sarakhs-Khangiran (built in 2009). The total capacity of the two pipelines is 25 bcm per year, which provides room for further increase of exports in the future. At the end of December 2009, Turkmen gas started flowing to China through the newly built Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Kazakhstan-China gas pipeline (Central Asia-China pipeline). Turkmen gas exports to China are most likely to total 3-4 bcm in 2010. Turkmenistan and China plan to boost gas supplies to 40 bcm by 2014-2015 when the pipeline reaches full capacity.
Turkmenistan's 2009 oil production was about 10.3 million tons and will most likely total 10.4 million tons in 2010. Turkmenistan refines almost all of its oil inside the country and exports only petroleum products such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and polypropylene.
Turkmenistan has taken a cautious approach to economic reform, hoping to use natural gas export revenues to sustain inefficiencies in its economy. The disruption of Turkmen gas exports to Russia in 2009 and the current decreased global natural gas demand demonstrated the heavy dependence of the Turkmen economy on gas exports. There are now signs that Turkmenistan is experiencing a shortage of hard currency reserves. The current foreign debt is estimated to be $5 billion. The private sector remains underdeveloped, with activity primarily in the food processing, consumer trade, and services sectors. In addition, Turkmenistan's statistics are closely held state secrets, and published GDP and other figures are subject to wide margins of error. Turkmenistan's goal of agricultural "self-sufficiency" artificially sustains the cultivation of inefficient crops, such as wheat and cotton. The 2006 UN Development Program (UNDP) Human Development Report placed Turkmenistan in the category of "medium human development" although unemployment and underemployment rates may be as high as 70%. Turkmenistan continues to cooperate with the international community to transport humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.
Economy (2009 est.)
GDP (PPP - purchasing power parity): $16.24 billion (Government of Turkmenistan report).
GDP per capita (PPP, est.): $3,248.
GDP real growth rate (Government of Turkmenistan estimate): 6.1%.
Inflation rate: 13%.
Agriculture: Products--cotton, grain, livestock, fruit and vegetables.
Industry: Types--natural gas, oil, petroleum products, textiles, food processing.
Trade (2008 est.): Exports ($11.92 billion)--gas 50%, oil and oil products 32%, cotton 2%. Partners--Russia, Iran, Italy, Turkey. Imports ($5.67 billion)--manufactured goods 65%, consumer goods 34%. Partners--Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, U.A.E., China, United States. Debt, external: Reported $4 billion to the Chinese Development Bank; $1 billion to Islamic Development Bank.
Location: Central Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Kazakstan
Geographic coordinates: 40 00 N, 60 00 E
Map references: Commonwealth of Independent States
total area: 488,100 sq km
land area: 488,100 sq km
comparative area: slightly larger than California
total: 3,736 km
border countries: Afghanistan 744 km, Iran 992 km, Kazakstan 379 km, Uzbekistan 1,621 km
Coastline: 0 km
note: Turkmenistan borders the Caspian Sea (1,768 km)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
International disputes: Caspian Sea boundaries are not yet determined
Climate: subtropical desert
Terrain: flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes rising to mountains in the south; low mountains along border with Iran; borders Caspian Sea in west
lowest point: Sarygamysh Koli -110 m
highest point: Ayrybaba 3,139 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, coal, sulfur, salt
arable land: 2%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 69%
forest and woodland: 0%
Irrigated land: 12,450 sq km (1990)
current issues: contamination of soil and groundwater with agricultural chemicals, pesticides; salinization, water-logging of soil due to poor irrigation methods; Caspian Sea pollution; diversion of a large share of the flow of the Amu Darya into irrigation contributes to that river's inability to replenish the Aral Sea; desertification
natural hazards: NA
international agreements: party to - Ozone Layer Protection; signed, but not ratified - Climate Change, Desertification
Geographic note: landlocked