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A fast growing interest of Russian business representatives in exploration and development of the Turkmen market has been quite remarkable lately. "Gasprom" remained an absolute leader in this process. This is quite natural if we recall a large-scale contract signed by the Russian gas giant and "Turkmenneftegas" trade corporation, which provides not only for Turkmen gas purchases but also for joint exploration of fields in the territory of Turkmenistan and cooperation in enhancing the opportunities to get Karakum's hydrocarbons to international markets.

Certainly, "Gasprom" would not do without establishment of a representative office in the capital of Turkmenistan to accomplish such an effective program of partnership. The company's leadership has recently taken a decision to this effect.

As earlier reports said, "Gasprom's" interests in Ashgabat would be represented by Andrei Chuprigin who worked as "Interrosgas" company's director before this appointment. There is virtually no time left for "Gasprom's" Ashgabat office to get a normal start: Russia will receive first cubic meters of Turkmen gas under a 25-year contract in two and a half months. Let us recall that "Gasprom" will by 5-6 bcm of gas in 2003 under the Turkmen-Russian documents signed on April 10 this year. It will amount to 6-7 bcm in 2005, 10 bcm in 2006, 60-70 bcm in 2007, 63-73 bcm in 2008 and 70-80 bcm in 2009-2028 per year.

A fact that the Russian gas giant headquarters attached great importance to strengthening its positions in the Turkmen market was also proved by a meeting of "Gasprom's" board chairman Alexei Miller with Russian Ambassador to Ashgabat Andrei Molochkov, in which they had discussed a progress in implementation of the agreement on cooperation in the gas field between Russian and Turkmenistan and taking priority measures in the framework of "Central Asia - Center" program aimed at ensuring Turkmen gas supplies to Russia. They had also discussed "Gasprom" representative office's plan of work in Ashgabat during the meeting.

Meanwhile, the leadership of the Chelyabinsk Tractor plant (CTP) declared a desire to activate its cooperation with Turkmen partners. It was decided to establish a "service-center" in Ashgabat to reinforce competitiveness of the Urals workers in this Southern republic.

Over 300 Chelyabinsk's tractors have been supplied to the republic since 2000 and the Urals workers' strive to nail their success down seems quite natural.

"Ideally, we wanted to establish a service center fitted with all necessary equipment for repair and maintenance of tractors in Turkmenistan. It is too early to say whom of the possible partners and how soon will be able to do that. The process is on, and now it is very important to speed it up", Vadim Oschepkov, a deputy head of marketing and sales department, said to journalists.

In his words, the CTP has already supplied 82 bulldozers to Turkmenistan this year. An agreement on supply of 90 more bulldozers has been reached too.

Russian companies' activity at the International Exhibition "Oil and gas of Turkmenistan - 2003" held recently in Ashgabat was also noticeable. In an interview to a correspondent of Turkmenistan.ru general-manager of "Gidromashservice" Kirill Molchanov said: "we are very interested in the Turkmen engineering industry market and hope to get a place there".

Unlike "Gidromashservice", which is taking first steps towards establishment of cooperation with Turkmenistan, "Volgaburmash" has been old partner of the Turkmen oil and gas industry. Viktor Bovkunov, a general-manager of the company's representative office, believes that there are good conditions for Russian enterprises that either supply its production or implement joint projects in Turkmenistan. "A boost in Turkmenistan's oil and gas industry development secures new contracts for us and new opportunities. I strongly advice Russian businessmen to take a closer look at Turkmenistan", he said.

The Russian pipeline metallurgy company (PMC) has been already for three years in the Turkmen market. As company's representative Igor Shaposhnikov said, production of PMC's four pipe making plants is in good demand in Turkmenistan.

"Turkmenistan is a strategic partner of our company. PMC is going to get actively involved in large-scale projects by supplying its product - pipe sets for transportation of hydrocarbon resources. We are quite interested in oil and gas extraction projects and we intend to supply specific pipe sets for the extractive industry too. Our company's pipes are also used in engineering and energy fields of the economy as well as in utility service. We have to compete with big pipe making plants from China and Romania in Turkmenistan. From our side we want to say that such competition stimulates PMS to further improvement of quality of its products and technology of production and to develop a robust marketing policy. PMC has already won tenders on pipes supply. At present, our company is participating in the next tender to supply pipes for the oil industry. The total amount of production supplied by PNC to Turkmenistan is estimated at 5,5 thousand tons of pipes. We plan to supply some more 10 thousand tons by the end of the year. We hope that future cooperation with our partners will be successful too".

In our opinion, experience of such companies as PMS should be adopted by other Russian business enterprises. In this regard, despite some examples of the fruitful partnership with Turkmenistan, on the whole, Russian business community has yielded the palm not only to Turks but to Ukrainians too. Although a potential of economic cooperation between Turkmenistan and Russia is huge, it is not fully used. Yet, the situation can change in the nearest 2-3 years, because such a "locomotive" as "Gasprom" will, undoubtedly, pull other big Russian companies to the Turkmen market.

Igor Solovyev

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