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Ashgabat rolls out energy policy

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- Turkmenistan will look south to a pipeline through Afghanistan as part new policy governing the natural gas sector, the president announced.

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov outlined an energy policy that aims to boost ties with Western countries eager to tap into the vast gas resources locked in his country.

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Turkmenistan holds more than 40 trillion cubic feet of gas in its Dauletabad gas field.

The president during his address outlined a deal with Italian energy company Eni to develop the Nebit-Dag oil and gas field, the second such deal for a foreign energy company. Deals from supermajors Chevron and Conoco Philips, as well as deals from Emirati energy companies, were also raised, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.

In terms of gas transit, Berdimuhamedov called on officials to take all steps necessary to develop the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, the report adds.

The 1,043-mile TAPI pipeline would move gas from the Dauletabad gas field to consumers in Pakistan and India after transiting Afghanistan.

The Asian Development Bank financed a feasibility study for TAPI in 2005 despite the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

European Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger said during an April visit to Turkmenistan that the European energy sector was interested in a "full and mutually beneficial partnership with Turkmenistan."

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The Turkmen Foreign Ministry, however, warned that politicizing energy did little to address regional energy security.

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