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Turkmenistan (Turkmen: Түркменистан, Türkmenistan; Russian: Туркменистан, Turkmenistan), officially known as the Republic of Turkmenistan and historically known as Turkmenia (Туркмения, Turkmeniya), is a republic of the Soviet Union.
When the Soviet Union began to collapse, Turkmenistan and the rest of the Central Asian states heavily favored maintaining a reformed version of the state, mainly because they needed the economic power and common markets of the Soviet Union to prosper. It signed the "New Union Treaty", along with its fellow Central Asian SSR's and has continued to prosper in the joint market.
The republic possesses the world's fourth-largest reserves of natural gas and substantial oil resources. The Turkmenistan Natural Gas Company (Türkmengaz), under the auspices of the Soviet Ministry of Oil and Gas, controls gas extraction in the country. Gas production is the most dynamic and promising sector of the economy. Turkmenistan's gas reserves are estimated at 8.1-8.7 trillion cubic meters and its prospecting potential at up to 21 trillion cubic meters.
Most of Turkmenistan's oil is extracted by the Soviet State Company from fields at Koturdepe, Balkanabad, and Chekelen near the Caspian Sea, which have a combined estimated reserve of 700 million tons. The oil extraction industry started with the exploitation of the fields in Chekelen in 1909 (by Nobel brothers) and Balkanabad in the 1930s, then production leaped ahead with the discovery of the Kumdag field in 1948 and the Koturdepe field in 1959. Big part of the oil produced in Turkmenistan is refined in Turkmenbashy and Seidi refineries. Also, oil is exported by tankers through Caspian Sea to Europe via canals.
Half of the republic's irrigated land is planted with cotton, making the republic the world's tenth-largest producer of it. However, production slightly declined in order to relieve the Amu Darya so more water can flow into the declining Aral Sea.