Measures on enhancing cooperation in the gas field were discussed at a meeting with Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov. The issue of gas supplies in 2005-2006 was the main topic of talks.
As is known, Ashgabat insisted on the increase in gas prices which were earlier set in the contracts on gas supplies to Russia for this year. Ashgabat reasoned that a barter part of payment should be revised due to higher costs of delivered goods.
Last year, Gazexport had no problems with purchasing some 5 bcm of gas from Turkmenneftgaz. This year, the amount of purchases is expected to reach 6-7 bcm of gas. However, disagreements over the price (Ashgabat wanted US $ 60 for 1000 cub.m. instead of the earlier agreed US $ 44) resulted in reduction of Turkmen gas supplies. Alexei Miller's brief visit to Ashgabat and his talks with the leadership of the republic eliminated these disagreements, according to the press service of Gazprom. The price for gas for this and following years will remain unchanged at US $ 44 under the contract. The both sides were satisfied with the results of cooperation and high level of understanding in the field of gas business. Alexei Miller and Saparmurat Niyazov agreed to strictly observe the signed agreements and contracts, including agreements on gas prices for Russia. At the same time, it was noted that the sides would honor their mutual commitments for 2005-2006 in full, and the pricing formula for gas for the period 2007 to 2028 would be determined in the middle of next year.
Let us remind you that Russia and Turkmenistan signed a 25-year agreement for cooperation in the gas sphere on April 10, 2003, after which Gazexport (Gazprom's subsidiary) and Turkmenneftegaz signed a long-term contract for supplies to Russia of natural gas from Turkmenistan. According to the contract, gas supplies to Russia should reach 10 bcm in 2006, 60-70 bcm in 2007 and 70-80 bcm from 2009.
The result of the meeting between Miller and Niyazov was quite impressive against the background of the recent visit to Ashgabat by President of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko when gas problems dominated at his talks with Saparmurat Niyazov but remained unresolved. Yet, certain mass media argued that Ashgabat and Kiev allegedly intend to agree on the significant increase in Turkmen gas supplies to Ukraine in the coming 20 year. Turkmenistan would supposedly find necessary amounts of gas at the expense of the Russian share. It was also alleged that if Naftogaz of Ukraine was more amenable than Gazprom agreeing on Ashgabat's new gas price - US $ 58 for 1000 cub.m.- it would be given carte blanche.
However, our Ashgabat source assured that, firstly, Turkmenistan will strictly observe the agreements signed with Gazprom, which was proved by the meeting between Alexei Miller and Saparmurat Niyazov. And, secondly, Kiev's long-term plans on significantly increasing Turkmen gas imports are just Kiev's plans, not the result of bilateral agreements. Turkmenistan is ready to consider offers made by the good neighbor. In this case, the point should be made on additional volumes from new Turkmen fields but not at the expense of reallocation of resources slated for Russia.
"TRIBUNA" newspaper (Russia), 16.04.2005