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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Turkmen President Appoints New Head of Gas Monopoly

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov on Sunday appointed the head of the country's main oil refinery as the new head of state gas monopoly Turkmengaz, with the rank of Cabinet minister, Interfax reported.

Tachberdi Tagiyev is a former oil and gas minister and a former chairman of the state oil company, Turkmenneft.

His experience of working within Turkmenistan's secretive system of government under the late President Saparmurat Niyazov might point to his having certain influence, said Nadya Kazakova, oil and gas analyst with MDM Bank.

Turkmengaz controls gas extraction, production and transportation in the country. Natural gas is Turkmenistan's prime export.

"I suspect the president would put a key decision maker there," said Stephen O'Sullivan, co-head of research at UFG.

Since 2006, Tagiyev has been general director of the Turkmenbashi oil refinery, on the Caspian shore.

He became chairman of state oil company Turkmenneft in 1998, and from November 2002 to October 2003 he served as minister for oil and gas and natural resources. He then worked three years as governor of one of the country's provinces before being made head of the Turkmenbashi refinery.

On Monday, Ukrainian Fuel and Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko said he hoped Ukraine could soon restart talks about Ukrainian participation in Turkmen oil and gas exploration projects, Interfax-Ukraine reported.

Ukraine gets approximately 50 percent of its gas needs from Turkmenistan, via a deal involving Gazprom and intermediary company RosUkrEnergo. Gazprom has a long-term deal to buy up nearly all of Turkmenistan's gas until 2028.

In another staff change Sunday, Berdymukhammedov appointed Yusup Ishangulyev to head the presidential administration.