* New hi-tech refinery to be built near Caspian
* Turkmenistan plans to triple oil refining by 2030
* Turkmen Jan-Aug oil products exports rise 15 pct yr/yr
By Marat Gurt
ASHGABAT, Sept 13 Japan's JGC Corp has
been chosen to prepare a feasibility study for a new oil
refinery in western Turkmenistan, local industry officials said
on Thursday, adding that construction works would start in 2015.
"This will be a completely new refinery, whose output will
meet rigid international technological standards," Tachberdy
Tagiyev, general director of the state-run Turkmenbashi Oil
Processing Plants Holding Company, told an energy conference.
He said the new plant would be built in the town of Okarem
in the Balkan region near the Caspian Sea.
Turkmenistan, a Central Asian nation of 5.5 million which
borders Afghanistan and Iran, is the world's fourth-largest
holder of natural gas reserves.
The ex-Soviet desert nation, which also boasts ample
reserves of crude oil, set an ambitious target in March last
year, to build three new oil refineries and boost capacity at
its two existing plants by 2030 to achieve a projected threefold
rise in refining.
A government official had earlier told Reuters that the new,
third refinery, would have an initial capacity of 3 million
tonnes of crude a year, set to rise to 5 million tonnes.
Turkmenistan currently processes most of its annual crude
oil output of over 10 million tonnes at two refineries.
The country plans to boost its crude output nearly sixfold
to around 67 million tonnes by 2030. It aims to boost processing
to 20 million tonnes in 2020, 25 million tonnes in 2025 and 30
million tonnes in 2030.
"Thanks to a number of companies from various countries,
within a short period of time we have built a number of
ultra-modern technological facilities, which has boosted the
volume of oil refining, with the depth of crude processing
reaching 80 percent," Tagiyev said, giving no further detail.
In a rare official disclosure of energy sector statistics in
the reclusive nation, Tagiyev told the conference that
Turkmenistan had exported oil products worth $2.24 billion in
January-August, a 15 percent rise over the same year-ago period.
A government official, who asked not to be named, told
Reuters that Turkmen refineries had processed around 4.6 million
tonnes of crude since the start of 2012. Tagiyev said the
country was now exporting some 65 percent of its oil products.
Several international majors, including Total,
Chevron, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil,
are vying for some of the 32 licensed blocks that Turkmenistan
holds within its portion of the Caspian Sea.
The government estimates its Caspian oil reserves at about
11 billion tonnes.
State oil firm Turkmenneft is the main producer in the
country, although several foreign companies are also drilling,
including Dubai-based Dragon Oil and Malaysian state
oil company Petronas