Russia to sign Turkmen gas accord

Russia to sign Turkmen gas accord

Aahgabat: President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday travels to Turkmenistan to sign a deal that could see the resumption of gas supplies from the isolated ex-Soviet state to Russia from next year, officials said.

“The signing of a document on gas is scheduled" for Tuesday, an official with the Turkmenistan government told AFP on condition of anonymity, declining to provide further details.

A Kremlin spokesman confirmed that Medvedev and his Turkmen colleague Gurganbuly Berdymukhamedov would discuss energy but declined to elaborate.

Earlier this year, Turkmenistan accused Russia of abruptly decreasing the volume of Turkmen natural gas in the pipeline, causing it to rupture and allowing Russia to drastically scale down its imports of Turkmen gas at a time when demand in Europe fell.

Analysts estimate the gas rupture has caused Turkmenistan to lose around one billion dollars a month.

The Kommersant daily, citing a source at the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom, reported Monday that during the visit Russia and Turkmenistan would sign an agreement that would see Russia purchasing 10 or 11 billion cubic metres of gas a year between 2010 and 2012.

The new volumes would represent a four-fold reduction in purchases compared to earlier years.

If the document is signed, gas supplies from Turkmenistan — Russia’s main source of natural gas in Central Asia — would restart from 1 January next year, the report said.

The resumption of gas would come after several false starts earlier this year.

Kommersant said Moscow and Ashgabat had been unable to agree on the gas price since autumn, with Gazprom insisting on lower prices in line with falling prices for gas worldwide.

The fact that Gazprom wants to pare down Turkmen gas purchases also meant the launch of a long-planned Moscow-backed Caspian gas pipeline would be postponed indefinitely, Kommersant said.