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Not to compete, but cooperate
Moscow and Ashkhabad are preparing agreement on strategic partnership in gas field till 2020

During these two weeks Turkmenistan is following terrible act of terrorism in Moscow and its consequences and expresses its deepest sympathy with the whole Russian people. Turkmenistan has celebrated its 11th independence anniversary, however it was worried about those who were taken as hostages in Moscow. There were only one conclusion drawn - terrorism is our common evil and we need to fight with it all together, strengthening mutual cooperation and mutual assistance.

Although, this is the leitmotiv of all main agreements between Russia and Turkmenistan - good neighbors and partners in CIS. Regardless its neutral status, fixed in a special resolution of the UN General Assembly, Turkmen people and its leader Saparmurat Niyazov demonstrate Russia its good attitude towards Russia, readiness to develop and strengthen political, economic and spiritual ties between the both states, mutual participation in implementation of various projects.

Mutual cooperation in oil and gas sphere, which becomes more active during the past period of time, proves aforementioned. Russian specialists join actively to implementation of joint projects on development and transportation of oil and gas in Turkmenistan. Another phase of such cooperation was creation of consortium of three Russian oil companies Itera, Rosneft and Zarubejneft. ZarIT joint venture will deal with research of oil and gas fields on the Turkmen shelf of the Caspian Sea.

It is obvious, that such alliance would not be possible without participation and support of the Turkmen leadership. Despite of very heavy schedule of celebrations as well as working schedule the Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov managed to meet with the heads of Itera Igor Makarov and vice president of Zarubejneft company Sergey Oganessian to discuss joint projects. Under the instruction of Turkmenbashi his ministers discussed with the Russian businessmen cooperation issues. Next morning they presented to the president information about ZarIT. On the eve, the Turkmen president also received representatives of Ukraine and discussed energy problems as well.

A document on cooperation with the Turkmen Ministry of oil and gas industry and mineral resources for 2003 was signed as a result of long talks. Russian purchases 10 billion cubic meters of gas as well as take part in transit of the Turkmen gas to Ukraine. It was expected that those days Ashkhabad would become the very place where two more large agreements could be signed. One of them foresaw a large package of agreements with Mayor Office of St. Petersburg. Unfortunately, because of tragic events in Moscow the visit of St. Petersburg's Mayor to Ashkhabad was postponed. The agreement will cover cooperation in various spheres, first of all in humanitarian. Although, in his letter addressed to Saparmurat Niyazov St. Petersburg's governor expressed confidence that the first for Turkmenistan direct agreement with one of Russian regions will be signed in the nearest future.

Summit of three presidents - Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan - was postponed because of a number of objective reasons. The main theme of the summit had to be a formation of international consortium for implementation of TransAfghan gas main project. The President Niyazov stated before that this project, which can be compared with Russian-Turkish "Blue stream" or Baltic project of Gazprom, is open for participation of other states. First of all gas companies of Russia. He again mentioned about it in Ashkhabad at the April session on the Caspian Sea and during the recent phone conversation with the president of Russia Vladimir Putin. Then Turkmenbashi assured once again that Russia was and still is one of the main partners of Turkmenistan in oil sphere.

As for "South" project the Turkmen minister for oil and Gas and mineral resources stated that it is expected that up to 30 billion cubic meters of gas annually will be operated. It will pass from Dovlatebad field via Afghan territory to Pakistani city to Multan. The length of the pipe is about 1.500 kilometers. It is expected that 2nd and 3rf stages of construction will be laid to India and Pakistani port of Gvadar, where the gas can be condensed and transported by the sea. The expected cost of the project (its first stage) is USD 2 billion.

The ministers reminded again about the fact that the project is open for the Russian companies. Moreover, he stressed about the recent visit of the Russian Energy Minister Igor Yusufov to Ashkhabad, who was received by the Turkmen president Saparmurat Niyazov. After the meeting an opportunity of participation of the Russian companies in the project was reflected in protocol of the session of bilateral intergovernmental commission for economic cooperation. It worth mentioning that it is the first attempt to get the Russian gas companies interested in the project. Yet in the beginning of the 90th the first version of feasibility study of TransAfghan gas pipeline foresaw participation of Gazprom with 15% of shares.

Correspondent of Tribuna

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By Rustem Tell

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