Turkmenistan is sitting on one of the largest natural gas fields in the world and the country has the potential to meet energy demands from some of the world's biggest economies.
But getting access to the world's fourth largest reserves, estimated at on about 25tn cubic metres, remains a major stumbling block for energy-hungry nations as it decides to do without foreign involvement.
Al Jazeera's Robin Forestier-Walker reports from the Karakum desert in the Central Asian country.
Thoughts to ponder - 40yrs of an open crater with continuous nonstop burning of natural gas/components - wow - what's the local/regional/prevailing wind air quality like? - heat - particulates - gaseous outputs?
The Derweze area is rich in natural gas. While drilling in 1971 geologists accidentally found an underground cavern filled with natural gas. The ground beneath the drilling rig collapsed, leaving a large hole with a diameter of about 50-100 meters. To avoid poisonous gas discharge, it was decided to burn the gas. Geologists had hoped the fire would go out in a few days but it has been burning ever since. Locals have named the cavern The Door to Hell.
Next to capturing the gas, flaring is safer and friendlier to the environment than releasing the methane into the atmosphere as methane is a relatively potent greenhouse gas with a high global warming potential of 72 (averaged over 20 years) or 25 (averaged over 100 years).