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There is a place in Turkmenistan where fire erupts from the ground in the middle of the desert, but not everyone knows the nature of this phenomenon. The Darvaza crater, officially named the Shining of Karakum, is approximately two hundred and seventy kilometers from Ashgabat. It is a down warping with a diameter of 60 m and a depth of about 20 m.

by: Turkmen Forum, Scientific-Research Institute of Natural Gas

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Complimentary, Natural Gas & LNG News, Asia/Oceania, Energy Transition, Turkmenistan, Promoted Content


Climate scientists consider about 30 percent of global warming since the beginning of the industrial era is due to methane emissions. Over the past two years, this figure has reached a record level. Anthropogenic factors cause 50-65% of methane emissions worldwide, and the main sources are agriculture (livestock), energy, manufacturing industry, and household waste. According to experts' calculations, methane emissions must be reduced by 40-45% by 2030 to achieve the goals set in the Paris Agreement.

On December 1, 2023, at the United Nation’s 28th Conference of the Parties (COP) in Dubai, His Excellency, the President of Turkmenistan, Serdar Berdimuhamedov, announced Turkmenistan’s accession to the Global Methane Pledge. In so doing, Turkmenistan joined over 150 countries working collectively to reduce global methane emissions by at least 30 percent from 2020 levels by 2030. Not only does this initiative support the ecosystem but also human health and economic security and reflects the important role that Turkmenistan can and will play in helping achieve global climate targets that are the primary focus of countries around the world today. As President Berdimuhamedov pointed out in his official communication to the United Nations at COP28, “Turkmenistan will continue its current cooperation with international organizations and partner countries within existing projects and programs aimed at the practical implementation of commitments rising from the Global Methane Pledge.”


The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (NGC) NGC’s HSSE strategy is reflective and supportive of the organisational vision to become a leader in the global energy business.


S&P 2023

Turkmenistan is a major player in the Asian oil & gas market. The country’s hydrocarbon resources are estimated at over 71 billion tons of oil equivalent, over 20 billion tons of oil, and over 50 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. Given these figures, as of today, Turkmenistan holds the world’s fourth-largest proven natural gas reserves after Russia, Iran, and Qatar. Along with developing vast natural resources, the country is committed to driving the green transformation to net zero, as the planet's future depends on clean and sustainable energy.

According to experts, Turkmenistan can reduce methane emissions by approximately 75% and more than half without costs. Satellite studies have also shown sources of harmful emissions, which allows for the determination of ways to combat them.

Turkmenistan is working jointly with the UN’s International Observatory on Methane Emissions to conduct scientific research to reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. A vivid confirmation of active joint work is the visit of the oil and gas complex delegation to the IOME headquarters in Paris, within the framework of the International Forum to Attract Foreign Investments in Turkmenistan’s Energy Sector (TEIF 2024) on April 24-25, 2024. All this is necessary for the timely implementation of the tasks arising from the Paris Agreement in Turkmenistan.

Methane emissions are a major contributor to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and are responsible for 30% of the causes of global warming.

Most low-cost options for reducing methane emissions can be applied to extractive industries, such as plugging leaks in gas pipelines, limiting gas flaring in oil wells and coal mines, or implementing methane capture technologies for monetization.

An increase in methane content in the atmosphere enhances the greenhouse effect since methane intensively absorbs the Earth's thermal radiation in the infrared region of the spectrum.

Methane is a major contributor to ground-level ozone, a dangerous air pollutant, and a potent greenhouse gas. Exposure to it causes 1 million premature deaths annually. Over a 20-year period, it causes 80 times more warming than carbon dioxide.

A 10% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions will result in a 10% reduction in the growth rate of concentration, and a 30% reduction will similarly result in a 30% reduction in the growth rate of concentration. A 50% reduction in emissions would stabilize carbon dioxide concentrations, but only for less than a decade.

Increasing carbon dioxide creates excess greenhouse gases, which trap additional heat. This trapped heat causes ice caps to melt and sea levels to rise, causing flooding. In general, the presence of carbon dioxide and its greenhouse effect in the atmosphere leads to an increase in surface temperature of the order of +8±1 °C, and air humidity is responsible for the remainder of the greenhouse effect with little influence from other gases.

There is a place in Turkmenistan where fire erupts from the ground in the middle of the desert, but not everyone knows the nature of this phenomenon. The Darvaza crater, officially named the Shining of Karakum, is approximately two hundred and seventy kilometers from Ashgabat. It is a down warping with a diameter of 60 m and a depth of about 20 m in the territory of a natural gas field.

In 1963, an exploration well was drilled at the Chaljulba structure of the Zeaghly-Derveze group of fields. Once the well was drilled, an underground gas-filled void was discovered at a shallow depth, where the top soil layers collapsed. The crater was then set on fire to avoid gas poisoning people and animals. It was assumed that the gas would burn out within a few days or the productive layer would be watered out, as in other structures (Derveze and Shyh-Shyhyany) located 5-7 km away, with two more craters. However, for about 60 years, gas continues to flow into the crater and burn.

While gas burning in the crater of the emergency well Chaljulba is popular with tourists, it harms the environment by releasing methane and its combustion products. In addition, burning natural gas which is essentially wasted, can generate significant revenue if produced properly and fed to the pipeline. Therefore, the government of Turkmenistan has tasked the management of the national energy companies to attract scientists and, if necessary, international expertise to solve this problem.

Specialists of the Scientific Research Institute of Natural Gas of the State Concern “Turkmengas” studied the geological structure of the layers of the Zeagli-Derveze group of fields. This group's peculiarity is the presence of many thin low-power layers lying at a depth of 200 to 950 meters, interlayered with aquifer and dense layers. It was also revealed that layers and deposits interact with each other.

The proposal prepared by Turkmen scientists included drilling a well, which should open all the productive layers present in the section, which will further reduce gas flow into the crater and reduce methane emissions. Of course, it is impossible to instantly stop uncontrolled inter-layer gas flows because filtration speed, i.e., gas movement in porous formations, is very low. However, gas production from a nearby well will make it possible to control the filtration flow so much that over time, the entire gas flow will be directed towards the well; secondly, the extracted and not burned gas can be used for export. Forced gas extraction from a newly drilled well will allow control of filtration flows and reduce uncontrolled gas emissions into the atmosphere.

One proposed measure was moving one of the observation wells close to the burning crater into operational well stock. This will help make intensive gas extraction from the upper productive formations possible. 

Interestingly, the data from satellite images (provided by Capterio) confirm the effectiveness of the proposed measures. These images demonstrate a significant reduction in combustion (more than twice) from September 2023 to February 2024 (blue bars on the graph) when forced gas extraction was carried out from nearby wells.

Obviously, the development of gas fields includes a wide range of tasks. It requires constant improvement of the applied technologies and strategies, special detailed laboratory experiments, comprehensive, in-depth study from environmental and economic points of view, innovation, and investment. The approach proposed by the Turkmen scientists will serve as one of the main steps towards zero greenhouse gas emissions and maintaining an ecological balance in the environment. It will vividly demonstrate Turkmenistan’s contribution to combating methane emissions.   

Currently, the energy sector of Turkmenistan is actively preparing for the upcoming TEIF 2024 investment forum held in Paris on April 24 - 25. More than 250 international delegates have registered for the Forum. Leading experts from the UN, OPEC, IEA, and international companies will present their vision and ways to reduce methane emissions as part of a panel discussion in Session 2, “Reducing methane and CO2 emissions in hydrocarbon production and alternative energy sources”. Registration for participation is open till April 19. For more information, please visit: www.ogt-turkmensitan.com