Azerbaijan to begin gas exports

President of Azerbaijan said that the country would begin exporting gas, including to European countries.

"Azerbaijan, which used to import gas ..., is turning into a gas exporter," Ilham Aliyev told an international oil and gas conference.

Last year, the oil-rich ex-Soviet Caspian nation produced about 4.5-5 billion cubic meters of gas and imported approximately the same amount from Russia. This year, the country will fully satisfy its own gas needs and next year it will produce more than 16 billion cubic meters, the president said. That means more than 6 billion cubic meters could be eligible for export.

Energy supplies from Azerbaijan's Caspian fields are playing an increasingly important role in the region, as Russia has hiked prices for its natural gas.