* Chevron says interested in key Turkmen gas deposit
* U.S. urges Turkmenistan to let foreigners invest onshore
By Marat Gurt
ASHGABAT, Nov 18 U.S. oil major Chevron Corp
(CVX.N) is in talks with Turkmenistan over its possible
participation in developing the giant South Iolotan gas field,
the company's country head said on Wednesday.
Washington has urged the Caspian nation to allow U.S.
companies to invest in its lucrative onshore projects but
Turkmenistan has so far admitted only China's CNPC.
Turkmenistan, an isolated country north of Iran, is at the
heart of a geopolitical struggle between the United States,
Russia and China for access to its resources, notably its
South Iolotan contains between 4 trillion and 14 trillion
cubic metres of gas, according to Britain's Gaffney, Cline and
Associates, making it one of the world's five largest deposits.
Douglas Uchikura, head of Chevron Nebitgaz B.V.
Turkmenistan, told Reuters on the sidelines of an annual energy
conference that he was in talks with Turkmen officials on the
"Yes, we are interested," he said. "We are making proposals
and we are in discussions".
Speaking to Reuters on the eve of the conference, U.S.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Krol said Washington
wanted Turkmenistan to allow its companies to invest in onshore
deposits such as South Iolotan. [ID:nLH368174]
Irritating other regional players, Turkmenistan has allowed
only China's state-owned major China National Petroleum Corp
(CNPC) to invest onshore in a gas project linked to a
Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline due to open next month.
Pushing into thinly populated Central Asia to feed China's
energy needs, CNPC won a licence to develop the onshore
Bagtyyarlyk deposit two years ago.
South Iolotan, another key onshore project, is seen as a
potential gas suppliers for the EU-backed Nabucco pipeline
designed to ease Europe's dependence on Russian gas by
connecting Caspian gas with Western markets.
Turkmen officials could not be reached for comment on
Chevron talks or whether they were holding similar discussions
with other companies.
(Writing by Maria Golovnina, editing by Anthony Barker)