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Russia, others sign Caspian gas pipeline deal

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 31 -- Russia, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan signed an agreement to build a natural gas pipeline along the Caspian Sea coast. The line would have an initial capacity of 20 billion cu m/year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the pipeline will ensure long-term gas deliveries to Russia's foreign partners, adding that it would be a "major contribution by our countries to the energy security of Eurasia and the world at large."

Russian Minister of Industry and Energy Viktor Khristenko said the new pipeline, which will carry gas from Turkmenistan for delivery to Russia's gas transportation system, will be built before yearend 2010.

The pipeline deal will likely disappoint the US and the European Union, which have been lobbying for a rival pipeline to be built under the Caspian Sea, bypassing Russia.

In September, Turkmenistan President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov said his country was ready to bypass Russia and begin selling some of its gas directly to Europe (OGJ Online, Sept. 21, 2007).

Earlier this month, however, Russia and Turkmenistan agreed to accelerate development of the proposed Caspian Gas Pipeline project following talks between OAO Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller, President Berdymukhamedov, and Deputy Prime Minister Tachberdy Tagyyev (OGJ, Dec. 10, 2007).

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.


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