ASHGABAT Turkmenistan has discovered a potentially large natural gas field close to its Caspian coast, the Central Asian nation's state news agency reported on Saturday.
Gas exports are the main source of hard currency for the former Soviet republic which is in talks with the European Union about building a pipeline across the Caspian to link its fields to European markets.
The new discovery was made onshore in the Uzunada area, at the depth of about 7 kilometres, state news agency TDH said. The test well produced 500,000 cubic metres of gas and 150 tonnes of condensate per day, it said.
Turkmenistan, whose reserves include the world's second-largest gas field, Galkynysh, has faced foreign currency shortages after Russia, one of the biggest customers, stopped buying Turkmen gas last year, leaving China as the main buyer.
The Ashgabat government is trying to diversify exports by discussing the Trans-Caspian link to Europe as well as investing in a pipeline through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India.
(Reporting by Marat Gurt; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Keith Weir)