Russia, Kazakhstanto form gas JV

Gazprom Chief Executive Rem Vyakhirev and Kazakh Prime Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev have agreed to form a Russian-Kazakh natural gas joint venture. Kazakhstan will contribute its Kaztransgaz company to the venture, Tokayev's press secretary, Rasul Zhumali, said. Gazprom will replace the Belgian company Tractebel as the exporter of Kazakhstan's gas. The documents forming the venture will likely be signed in June.


MOSCOW´┐ŻGazprom Chief Executive Rem Vyakhirev and Kazakh Prime Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev have agreed to form a Russian-Kazakh natural gas joint venture. Kazakhstan will contribute its Kaztransgaz company to the venture, Tokayev's press secretary, Rasul Zhumali, said. Gazprom will replace the Belgian company Tractebel as the exporter of Kazakhstan's gas. The documents forming the venture will likely be signed in June.

Reports that Tractebel was preparing to withdraw from Kazakhstan first surfaced in March. The government had a number of complaints against the Belgian company.

Kaztransgaz was formed in March. It is wholly state-owned. Uzakbai Karabalin, formerly a vice-president at state oil company Kazakhoil, was named to head Kaztransgaz.

Company charter capital totals 72,500 tenge ($509). The state stake in Kaztransgaz is scheduled for transfer into the charter capital of national oil transportation company Kaztransoil, on the condition the latter "accepts responsibility for transferring ownership rights and rights on other participation in company operations" to the Committee for State Property and Privatization.

The collaboration between Gazprom and Kaztransgaz is a promising development, Zhumali said. Kazakhstan is counting on the Russian gas giant for help in implementing a number of important projects, including delivery of gas to Europe, joint sales on the Chinese market, and swaps under which Russia delivers gas to the Kustanai region in northern Kazakhstan and the Aktyubinsk region in western Kazakhstan in exchange for gas from Kazakhstan's Karachaganak field.

The new alliance is also expected to introduce greater competition into the gas market of the southern region of Kazakhstan.

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