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Gazprom and Uzbekistan Sign Gas Transportation Deal

Gazprom and Uzbekistan's national energy company have signed a four-year deal which would allow transit of natural gas that Russia buys in neighbouring Turkmenistan via Uzbek territory, Gazprom said in a statement. The deal was signed in the Uzbek capital Tashkent by Gazprom Chief Executive Alexei Miller and Uzbekneftegaz CEO Abdusalom Azizov.

Earlier, Miller met with Uzbek President Islam Karimov to discuss further deepening of energy cooperation, including reconstruction of the Central Asia-Center pipeline, the only route for delivering Central Asian gas to world markets, Gazprom said.

Russian oil and gas businesses have recently stepped up activity in Uzbekistan as the ex-Soviet republic's autocratic President Islam Karimov has turned away from the West, irritated by Western criticism of his government's poor human rights record.

Uzbekistan resumed gas supplies to Russia in 2003, selling to it 1.27 billion cubic meters. In 2005 Gazprom plans to buy 8 billion cubic meters of Uzbek natural gas.

In April, Gazprom and Uzbekneftegaz signed a 15-year, $15 million deal to upgrade production at several Uzbek oil fields.

Uzbekistan currently extracts 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year and exports 5 billion cubic meters of it to Central Asian neighbors.

From Turkmenistan, Russia plans to buy a total of 11 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2005 and 2006.

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Posted 29/09/05

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