Germans May Team with Turkmenistan on Gas, Oil

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Turkmenistan's president Friday that there is "significant potential" for the countries to cooperate more closely on gas and oil, and suggested Germany could help the resource-rich Central Asian nation upgrade its infrastructure.

Under President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov, the former Soviet republic has started to open up to the world after years of reclusiveness under his eccentric and autocratic predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov.

EU nations such as Germany also want to reduce their reliance for gas supplies on Russia, which has sometimes had uneasy political relations with the European Union and which halted all gas deliveries to Ukraine in 2006.

On Friday, Merkel said her country is willing to help Turkmenistan pursue reforms and stressed the importance of economic ties.

"There is significant potential here," she said after meeting Berdymukhamedov at her office. "Turkmenistan is a rich country as far as gas and oil are concerned, and cooperation is far from exhausted here."

Natural Gas
Natural Gas

She added that Germany could make "very good offers" to expand Turkmenistan's infrastructure, as well as in the engineering and transport sectors.

Berdymukhamedov said his country has had "very good experiences" with German companies, but did not elaborate.

Turkmenistan has vast reserves of natural gas. Western nations have courted the country, but have yet to secure any meaningful commitments on future deliveries.