Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said his country's giant South Yoloten-Osman group of fields alone were now believed to contain a total of 18 trillion cubic metres of gas.
He said that Turkmenistan's total gas reserves were estimated at 24.6 trillion cubic metres (868 cubic feet). This represents more than triple the amount estimated so far.
According to the US Energy Information Administration, Turkmenistan's reserves rank fourth worldwide by volume (see Background). Those are estimated at 265 trillion cubic feet and represent 4% of the world total, it said.
"Our gas reserves will last for many decades to come," Berdymukhamedov said describing the deposits discovered at the South Yoloten-Osman fields as "colossal".
Berdymukhamedov said that Turkmenistan planned to produce 230 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas annually by 2030, with 180 bcm destined for export.
By comparison, the planned Nabuccco pipeline, designed to decrease the dependence of the EU from imported Russian gas, has an annual capacity of 38 bcm.
Europe not the only client
Turkmenistan does not currently supply gas to European countries, with exports going directly to Russia, Iran and China.
In fact, it was the State-owned China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) which made the latest major gas field discovery, announced on Tuesday.
Late last year, China and central Asian countries opened their first cross-border natural gas pipeline, which should be able to pump up to 40 bcm of gas per year to China by 2012-13.
The pipeline runs nearly 2,000 km through Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan before entering Chinese territory in the northwestern Xinjiang region.
China received 2.38 bcm of gas via the pipeline in the first eight months of the year, according to China's National Development and Reform Commission, quoted by Reuters.
Describing Turkmenistan as an authoritarian state, Michael Laubsch, an expert on Central Asia, recently told EurActiv that the country would be an "unreliable" partner for the EU (EurActiv 19/05/10).