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Cablegate: Turkmenistan: Russian Media Likely Distorted Energy Sector

VZCZCXRO9954
PP RUEHIK
DE RUEHAH #1369 2991205
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 261205Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3653
INFO RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 5810
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 3518
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 3380
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 4052
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1210
RHMCSUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 4023
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

UNCLAS ASHGABAT 001369

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/CEN; EEB; NEA/IR
ENERGY FOR EKIMOFF/BURPOE/COHEN
COMMERCE FOR EHOUSE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EPET PGOV EINV RS TX
SUBJECT: TURKMENISTAN: RUSSIAN MEDIA LIKELY DISTORTED ENERGY SECTOR
RESHUFFLE

REF: ASHGABAT 1295

1. (U) Sensitive but unclassified. Not for public Internet.

2. (SBU) A number of international media outlets, initially
Russian, have linked recent changes in the Turkmen energy sector's
leadership (reftel) with allegations that high-ranking oil and gas
officials had passed classified geological data, related to the
South Yoloten field, to foreign companies. In Turkmenistan, the
recent Russian media reports were seen as nothing more than Russian
sensationalism designed to discredit Turkmenistan. Rumors about a
reshuffling among the Turkmen oil and gas leadership were already
circulating in Ashgabat months before President Berdimuhamedov's
recent announcement of the changes. According to a Ministry of Oil
and Gas official, the new appointments reflect the intention of
recently appointed Deputy Chairman for Oil and Gas Baymyrat
Hojamuhammedov's to create a new team of oil and gas leaders.

3. (SBU) Turkmen energy experts pointed out that Turkmennebit (the
state oil concern) and the Turkmen State Oil and Gas Construction
Concern, the chairmen of which were replaced, had nothing to do with
South Yoloten. They added that Berdimuhamedov appointed a new
chairman to head Turkmengaz because that position had been vacant
for three months.

4. (SBU) COMMENT. The Gaffney Cline audit of the South Yoloten
field remains the most competent assessment of its potential
reserves. While there are doubts among some experts regarding the
completeness of the data used in the audit, experts from local state
companies and foreign companies working in Turkmenistan generally
think the Gaffney Cline results are realistic. Concerning the
personnel changes, it seems unlikely that high-ranking officials,
likely under the close eye of Turkmen law enforcement and security
services, would risk passing classified information to foreign
companies. In fact, almost all Turkmen officials avoid talking to
foreigners because they do not want to leave themselves open to
suspicion. END COMMENT.

CURRAN

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