Huge Turkmen Gas Field Found

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan -- An independent audit has found that Turkmenistan may hold the world's fourth-largest gas field, state-run media reported Tuesday.

The audit by Gaffney, Cline and Associates is the first outside analysis to be released publicly by the government and appeared aimed at quashing concerns that the country will not be able to satisfy its huge supply obligations.

The Yolotan field near the border with Afghanistan likely holds around 6 trillion cubic meters of gas, company official Jim Gillett told ministers in Ashgabat on Monday.

"It is now clear ... there is more than sufficient gas to fulfill Turkmenistan's current contract commitments," Gillett said. Yolotan may hold up to 14 trillion cubic meters, he added.

Turkmenistan has committed to exporting 50 bcm per year to Russia under a 25-year contract and it also has agreed to provide China with 40 bcm annually beginning late next year.