Azerbaijan doubles gas sales to Russia: company
Azerbaijan will double gas exports to Russia in 2011 to two billion cubic meters, and further increase them from 2012, gas giant Gazprom said on Friday, in a move that may deal a blow to the European gas project Nabucco.
The agreement betweeen Azerbaijan's state state energy company SOCAR and Russia's Gazprom was signed on the sidelines of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to the energy-rich ex-Soviet nation.
"Gazprom and SOCAR signed an addendum to the current purchase contract of Azerbaijani gas, according to which the acquisition volumes will grow to 2.0 billion cubic metres per year from 2011," Gazprom said in a statement.
Gas supplies will then grow above 2 billion cubic metres from 2012, the statement added.
"It's clear to everyone that the Russian direction is the most reliable and safe corridor to deliver Azerbaijani gas to the market," the company quoted its chief executive Alexei Miller as saying in the statement.
The increase adds to the existing contract signed in October 2009. The contract was doubled in December 2009 from 500 million cubic meters to one billion cubic meters.
The agreement on increasing gas supplies may ultimately deprive the European pipeline project Nabucco of a portion of gas from Azerbaijan.
The Nabucco project aims to deliver gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe through Turkey starting in 2014 in order to decrease European reliance on Russian gas supplies.
Rich in oil and gas and strategically located between Russia and Iran, Azerbaijan has been courted by both Moscow and the West since gaining its independence with the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
© 2010 AFP