"COMMERSANT" NEWSPAPER - ABOUT THE VISIT OF RUSSIAN ENERGY MINISTER IGOR YUSUFOV TO ASHKHABAD
The first session of Russian-Turkmen intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation was held in Ashkhabad yesterday. According to the results of the talks the planned cooperation will be focused on joint projects in oil gas sphere. Turkmen gas purchase will be made by "the residual principle", it means that Russia will get what "Itera" state company refuses to deliver to the Ukraine.
The Ashkhabad session was the first one after the consent reached by Vladimir Putin and Saparmurat Niyazov in January 2002 concerning establishment of a joint intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation. Ashkhabad officials even said that the event was expected "for ten years".
The Russian delegation headed by Energy Minister Igor Yusufov arrived in the Turkmen capital on Wednesday evening. The guests were received with such a delight that during the meeting with President Niyazov, Yusufov did his best to express gratitude and admiration by both Turkmenbashi and the Turkmen capital. The Minister admitted that Vladimir Putin instructed him "not to have any unsettled problem in Turkmenistan-Russia relations after the meeting". "The main thing is not to have problems by your side," Saparmurat Niyazov answered.
After exchange of compliments the session started its work. Ella Gurbanmuradov, Turkmen vice-premier was the Turkmen head of the commission. Participants of the session spoke about cooperation in oil gas sphere. Yusufov said that according to the long-term energy strategy Russia would start buying 10 bln cubic meters of Turkmen gas annually from 2005. Then from 2008 the volume of gas purchase will reach 20 bln cubic meters. The process will run on the permanent basis, without any interruption. In the nearest future Russia will buy Turkmen gas by the residual principle depending on transport possibilities of the existing pipeline and only after Turkmenistan fulfils its obligations on gas delivery to Ukraine in accordance with contracts with "ITERA" state company. The Minister also spoke about Russia's intention to participate in exploration of hydrocarbon deposits in Turkmen sector of Caspian shelf.
The Turkmen side again confirmed its interest in realization of joint projects, in particular in the sphere of transport and agriculture. Thus, it may refer to cotton fiber delivery to Russia on a long-term basis. And Russia can export to Turkmenistan some "material-technical resources" first of all industrial equipment. Besides, the draft agreement between governments of Russia and Turkmenistan concerning the activity of the intergovernmental commission was also discussed at the session.