Kyrgyzstan 'ready to sell gas company to Russia's Gazprom'

18th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Kyrgzystan is ready to sell a 75 percent stake in its national gas company to Russia's Gazprom, Kyrgyz Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev was quoted as saying Friday.

"We have agreed with Gazprom that we are ready to sell it 75 percent of Kyrgyzgaz" Atambayev said during a meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin outside Moscow, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.

He said Kyrgyz authorities were also willing to cooperate with Gazprom in exploration for gas deposits in the country.

The Russian daily Kommersant reported Friday that Kyrgyz authorities are urgently seeking economic help to avert social tensions ahead of this year's elections.

Ahead of its sowing season, Kyrgyzstan is seeking duty-free fuel from Russia to avoid new social tensions but whether Bishkek receives any discounts will depend on what Kyrgyz premier Almazbek Atambayev has to offer in return, the report said, citing sources.

Russia has been unhappy with Kyrgyzstan over a number of issues including the Central Asian nation's plans to host a US military training centre and apparent reluctance by Bishkek to sell stakes in key enterprises to Moscow, Kommersant said.

Kyrgyzstan is preparing for presidential elections in October, part of a transition after an uprising last year that toppled previous president Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

A mountainous republic with few natural resources, Kyrgyzstan suffers from seasonal energy shortages.

Kyrgyzstan warned at the beginning of the month that it was facing a critical natural gas shortage due to production and supply disruption in the neighbouring Central Asian republic of Uzbekistan, and was forced to halt supplies to some factories.

The Kyrgyz state owns 82.33 percent of Kyrgyzgaz. The country has an estimated six billion cubic meters of gas reserves, and produces around 30 million cubic meters per year.

© 2011 AFP

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