Turkmenistan opened a US$3.4 billion petrochemical plant as the country looks to access greater value from natural gas and reduce its reliance on exporting it to China and Iran.
According to fuel and energy chief Myratgeldi Meredov, the plant is expected produce 386,000 tonnes of polyethylene and over 81,000 tonnes of polypropylene. Both materials are key in plastic manufacturing and will be done through the processing of 5 billion cubic meters of gas per year.
The facility is located on the coast of the Caspian Sea and is a step towards diversifying the Turkmen energy complex. Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov hopes to increase the economy’s export potential by launching production of gas and chemical products that are in demand on the global markets.
Although Turkmenistan sits on the world’s fourth largest gas reserves, its isolation provides a struggle to make full use of them.
It depended on a few neighboring countries, but since Russia decided to halt imports of Turkmenistan gas three years ago, the country is left with just China and Iran as customers. Russia is set to resume the purchases next year.
The chemicals produced at the plant will be exported to China, India, Turkey, Europe, and other Central Asian countries via a new naval port.
Built by a consortium that includes South Korean firms LG International Corporation, Hyundai Engineering Corp. Ltd and Japanese company TOYO Engineering, the plant was financed by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.