Russia signs strategic gas deal

Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan agree to build gas pipeline.

    Putin, left, and his Turkmen
    counterpart during negotiations [AFP]

    Khristenko told reporters in the Caspian port of Turkmenbashi, where the leaders met: "Existing pipelines and those which are planned are more than enough to meet the growing requirements of the regional market." 


    The three former Soviet states issued joint declarations saying they would sign a treaty by September on building the new pipeline and would work with Uzbekistan to improve existing Soviet-era gas export infrastructure.

    New export routes

    New gas finds in Turkmenistan and a new leader in Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov had raised the possibility of the country, the largest gas producer in Central Asia, seeking new export routes.

    Berdymukhamedov said: "There is a worldwide process of diversifying export routes. These issues may be taken up for consideration. This project has not been completely dropped."

    The US, Europe and China would like direct access to Turkmen gas, most of which flows to Russia at below-market prices.

    The pipeline is a blow to US-backed plans for a trans-Caspian pipeline that would bypass Russian territory.

    A copy of the two declarations said "the governments of Russia, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan should ensure the realisation of the project ... starting from the second half of 2008".

    Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Kazakh president, said ahead of the signing: "This is a purely pragmatic commercial project... There is no politics there."


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