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The pipe will not remain empty

Energy Minister of Russia Igor Yusufov was pleased by the meeting with Saparmurat Niyazov, President of Turkmenistan. "Our joint commission will work in many directions. Naturally, first of all it will focus on energy and oil gas spheres, however joint projects, for instance in agriculture and transport spheres, will be also considered," he said.

As Yusufov said, according to the elaborated long-term energy strategy of Russia, it will annually buy 10 bln cubic meters of gas from Turkmenistan on the permanent basis starting from 2005, and 20 bln starting from 2008. Gas purchase will be made by residual principles in 2003-2004. Thus it will depend on transport possibilities of the existing pipeline after Ashkhabad implements its obligations on gas deliveries to Ukraine.

"Generally, the work on increase of Turkmen gas purchases should start with examination of the pipeline connecting the two countries, its repair and increase of capacities, if possible", the Minister said.

He also pointed out that Russia intends to participate in exploitation of hydrocarbon deposits in the Turkmen sector of Caspian shelf. It is possible that gas of these deposits will be transported to Russia along the coast of Caspian Sea.

As Yuri Komarov, vice-chairman of "Gasprom" board informed Moscow and Ashkhabad intend to adjust long-term partnership in gas sphere.

"It refers to serious volumes of Turkmen gas deliveries till 2020. Solid funds should be invested to make perfect interstate gas transport system for implementation of these projects," Yuri Komarov said.

In particular, it became known that "Gasprom" OJSC is going to reconstruct "Middle Asia-Center-SH" pipeline in the west of Turkmenistan, the current capacity of the pipeline is 10 million cubic meters per day. Signing of a long-term contract will allow the both parties to ensure financing of modernization of the former and construction of a new gas pipeline system.

It is possible that the agreement on cooperation in oil gas sphere until 2020 will be signed by Russian Energy Ministry and Oil Gas and Mineral Resources Ministry of Turkmenistan in the forth quarter of this year.

"ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA" Supplement to "Economic Union", 01.10.2002

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Andrey Yevplanov

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