No More Free Gas for Turkmens
Ashgabat has ruled that from now on, the population of Turkmenistan must start paying for the energy it uses as the country had to use its wealth more sparingly.
The government has supplied the people with free gas, water, electricity and salt since independence in October 1991, but now state subsidies will gradually be eliminated. Five years ago, Ashgabat put end to the monthly free gasoline quota (120 litres/car and 75 l/motorcycle).
President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said during a meeting with the Council of Elders that “the gas, water and electricity price will increase gradually and the free energy era has finished," according to an October 10 statement.
Turkmenistan never publishes official statistics, but according to BP estimates, the country’s primary energy demand reached 33.2mn barrels of oil equivalent (boe) in 2016, of which gas was 79.19% and oil products 20.18%. The country produced 66.8bn m³ of sale gas, of which 37.3bn m³ was exported. It also generated 22.6 TWh electricity last year. There was no information available for its exports, though Afghanistan and Iran both import electricity.
The decision to end subsidies has to be approved by cabinet, which is under Berdimuhamedov’s control.
Russia stopped gas imports from Turkmenistan in January 2016 and Turkmenistan itself stopped gas sales to Iran over an unpaid $1.8bn dept in January 2017. Ashgabat now only exports gas to China, which last year took 29.4bn m³.