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Friday, March 27, 2009

Russia, Azerbaijan in talks on gas deal: Gazprom

03-27-2009 - MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia's Gazprom said Friday it was in talks to buy gas from Azerbaijan in a move that could undermine attempts by European countries to diversify their sources of energy. State-controlled Gazprom and Azerbaijan's national energy company Socar signed a memorandum of understanding on gas sales from 2010, Gazprom said. The move could have implications for the strategic Nabucco gas pipeline project, an EU-backed initiative to pipe gas from Central Asia between Turkey and Austria from the Caspian Sea to western Europe. The route would bypass both Russia and Ukraine, whose poor relations have led to several cut-offs in European gas in recent years. Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are the two possible suppliers of gas for the pipeline. But Tatiana Mitrova from the Energy Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences told Russia's Interfax news agency that the Nabucco pipeline risked ending up without a gas supplier. The deal announced Friday "shows that Azerbaijan understands the economic uncertainty of the Nabucco project and the risks linked to its transit route, the financial problems and construction delays," she was quoted as saying. The Nabucco project is regularly criticised by the Kremlin. Gazprom buys gas from Central Asia and resells it at higher prices to other countries, such as Russia's neighbour Ukraine.

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