Turkmenistan to double power exports, eyes Pakistani market

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MARY, Turkmenistan (Reuters) - Turkmenistan completed an upgrade of its largest electric power plant on Saturday, which it hopes will help boost exports and eventually allow supplies to Pakistan, which would require the construction of a new transmission line.

The Central Asian nation, which sits on the world’s fourth-biggest natural gas reserves, has been hit hard by the plunge in global hydrocarbon prices and is seeking to diversify exports in order to increase its hard currency earnings.

Launching the upgraded gas- and steam-turbine plant in the southern Mary province, Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said it would boost power exports by 3 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) from the current 3.3 bln kWh a year.

“In the future, we plan to build a gas turbine power plant on the Turkmen-Afghan border together with Japan’s Sumitomo,” he said.

In addition to its current customers -- Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey -- Ashgabat plans to tap Pakistan’s market by building a power transmission line through Afghanistan, where it is already laying a gas pipeline in the same direction.

The Mary power plant upgrade, carried out by Turkey’s Calik Holding together with United States’ General Electric, cost $1.2 billion, a government source told Reuters.

Reporting by Marat Gurt; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Catherine Evans