Gazprom expands energy search in Kyrgyzstan

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The world's largest gas producer Gazprom said Wednesday it will invest at least $100 million in newly-discovered gas and oil deposits in the mountainous Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan

"The anticipated volume of investment in the geological survey will reach at least $100 million dollars," the Russian firm's chief Alexei Miller said after talks with Kyrgyz Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev.

Miller said the new discoveries in southern Kyrgyzstan along with two existing Gazprom-managed fields had sufficient reserves "to provide for the needs of the country."

He provided no further details or say when the more intensive exploration would begin.

But Miller told reporters that Gazprom intended to gain shares of Kyrgyz state-owned oil and gas companies -- the same practice it has pursued in other ex-Soviet states.

Kyrgyzstan lacks the natural resources of its Central Asian neighbours and produces just 70,000 of the 1.5 million tonnes of oil it consumes every year.

The state-owned gas company Kyrgyzgas also produces just two percent of the gas consumed by the Central Asian nation.

The country has recently been mired by ethnic violence and is seeking support for long-term projects that could help improve living conditions and stem social unrest.

© 2011 AFP

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