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A map showing the proposed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline.—File Photo

ASHGABAT: Turkmenistan, which holds the world's fourth-largest natural gas reserves, plans to produce 76.9 billion cubic metres of the fuel this year and export 43.9 bcm of this amount, a Turkmen official said on Wednesday.

Macroeconomic statistics and gas output data are seldom published in Turkmenistan, a reclusive Central Asian nation of 5.5 million where President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov wields virtually unlimited powers.

The official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters that last year Turkmenistan had planned to produce 68.6 bcm of gas and export 40.3 bcm. He declined to give the actual output for 2012.

Quoting unnamed sources in Turkmenistan's Economy Ministry, Russia's Business-TASS news agency said on Wednesday that natural gas output was 69 bcm last year.

Turkmenistan said last May that its 2011 gas output was 66 bcm. It said at the time that export revenues had more than doubled to $11 billion in 2011 compared with 2010.

The Turkmen official declined to give the value of the country's exports for last year.

The country plans to more than triple natural gas output in the next 20 years, planning to sell the fuel from the giant Galkynysh field – the world’s second-largest – to India and Pakistan via Afghanistan and to Europe via another new route.

Turkmenistan currently exports natural gas to Russia, China and Iran.