- Associated Press - Saturday, June 29, 2019

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) - Turkmenistan’s president has celebrated his 62nd birthday with the opening of the world’s largest natural gas-to-gasoline refinery, a $1.7 billion project.

The facility is intended to diversify the gas-rich Central Asian nation’s hydrocarbon exports as it struggles to manage low global energy prices amid a domestic economic crisis.

President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said Saturday that the new facility will process 1.785 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year, turning that into an annual output of 600,000 tons of gasoline, 12,000 tons of diesel fuel and 115,000 tons of liquefied natural gas.

Gas-to-gasoline processing is a relatively new technology. The plant was constructed by a consortium between Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industry and Turkey’s Rönesans. The Japanese Bank for International Cooperation was involved in the project’s financing.

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