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Monday, March 30, 2009

Azeris Agree To Consider Gazprom

30 March 2009 - The Moscow Times - Gazprom won an agreement from Azerbaijan on Friday to begin talks on buying Azeri gas in a deal that looks set to undermine the prospects of supply diversification for Europe. Gazprom and the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan, or Socar, will discuss the terms of deliveries, which are to start next year, Gazprom said in an e-mailed statement after a meeting between Gazprom chief Alexei Miller and Socar chief Rovnag Abdullayev. Gazprom and Socar will jointly inspect a 200-kilometer pipeline from Baku, the Azeri capital, to the border point of Novo-Filya, in Dagestan, to determine the extent of upgrades required for the shipments to begin, the statement said. Gazprom first offered to buy Azeri gas in June. Initial talks with Socar began the next month. Azerbaijan, which bought gas from Gazprom until 2007, became a gas exporter after BP-led fields began production that year. The European Union has been backing the Nabucco pipeline to broaden its choice of suppliers by tapping the resources of Azerbaijan, other Central Asian countries and possibly Iran. Diversification of deliveries has gained new urgency after a gas trade spat between Moscow and Kiev left several European countries in the cold in January. Gazprom's purchase of Azeri gas would reduce the likelihood that there will be enough gas to fill Nabucco, said Tatyana Mitrova, director of the Center for the Study of the Global Energy Markets at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Interfax reported.

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