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EU pushes for Kazakh gas pact

04 october 2011, 18:36
Tengiz oil-field in Kazakhstan. ©RIA Novosti
Tengiz oil-field in Kazakhstan. ©RIA Novosti
The European Union said Tuesday it would seek to strike a binding agreement with energy-rich Kazakhstan next week as part of its efforts to tap the region's vast gas resources, AFP reports.

"We have an opportunity during the negotiations, next week in Astana, on a new post-partnership and cooperation agreement to deepen our energy cooperation further in a legally binding agreement," EU energy commissioner Gunter Oettinger told a forum in the Kazakh capital Astana.

"I look forward to the outcome of the talks."

Kazakh officials said the deal would see Kazakhstan pump 20 to 30 billion cubic metres of natural gas from its Tengiz field near the Caspian Sea through Turkmenistan, Georgia and Azerbaijan to Turkey.

But EU officials refused to confirm the figures, stressing that no talks on specific delivery figures were currently being held.

Any deal struck by the EU in the former Soviet region is likely to irritate Russia, which last month lashed the bloc for launching Trans-Caspian Pipeline talks with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.

EU states buy nearly a third of their gas from Russia and have been seeking ways to curb that dependence -- a policy also supported by the United States amid fears of the Kremlin using energy as a political weapon.

The Caspian link is seen in Brussels as a long-term extension of the South Corridor gas supply route that the EU hopes to build around Russia using the region's gas.

"For the European Union, a Trans-Caspian gas pipeline will be an important contribution to the development of the Southern Corridor," Oettinger said.

Kazakhstan is estimated to have 85 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, with most of it in the Karagachak gas and oil field in the pre-Caspian basin in western Kazakhstan.

Russia is currently developing a South Stream pipeline in the same region as EU's Nabucco project and plans to begin deliveries by 2016.

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