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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Experts hail Gazprom's China deal as step in right direction

MOSCOW, March 22 (RIA Novosti) - Russian experts hailed energy giant Gazprom's newly signed memorandum on natural gas supplies to China as a stride toward creating a global gas market. The memorandum, which Gazprom signed with the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation on the fringes of President Vladimir Putin's visit to China Tuesday, will "have a positive effect on our state's political and economic image," said economist Yevgeny Zayashnikov, who chairs the natural-gas committee in the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament. "This is a good step forward to creating a global gas market, a major element in enhancing global energy security," Zayashnikov said. Vladimir Likhachev, deputy director of Russia's Institute of Energy Studies, described the memorandum as "a breakthrough in Russian-Chinese relations." "Finding the best way to bring our natural gas to the Chinese market will help Russia get big preferences in the future, as energy consumption in China will keep growing and the country's natural gas market has until now been extremely undeveloped," Likhachev said. He said Russian gas supplies to China would be a "powerful response" to recent moves by Western European nations toward energy security. Natalia Volynskaya, director of the Independent Institute for Fuel and Energy, said Gazprom's deal with China in no way encroaches on European interests, and that Europe could even benefit from it as Russian supplies will "alleviate China's pressure on the market." Cooperation will also boost the development of Russia's Eastern Siberia region, she added.

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