Russia and Uzbekistan agree on gas transportation deal

Russia's natural gas monopoly Gazprom and Uzbekistan's national energy company on Tuesday signed a four-year deal that would allow transit of natural gas that Russia buys in neighboring Turkmenistan via Uzbek territory.

The deal was signed in the Uzbek capital Tashkent by Gazprom chief Alexei Miller and Uzbekneftegaz chief Abdusalom Azizov.

On Monday, 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.

Uzbekistan resumed gas supplies to Russia in 2003, selling to it 1.27 billion cubic meters (45 billion cubic feet). In 2005 Gazprom plans to buy 8 billion cubic meters (282 billion cubic feet) of Uzbek natural gas.

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

Uzbekistan currently extracts 55 billion cubic meters (about 2 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas a year and exports 5 billion cubic meters (176 billion cubic feet) of it to Central Asian neighbors.

From Turkmenistan, Russia plans to buy a total of 11 billion cubic meters (388 billion cubic feet) of natural gas in 2005 and 2006, the AP reports.

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