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Russia-Azerbaijan gas deal would boost energy security - Medvedev


BARVIKHA, April 17 (RIA Novosti) - A potential gas deal between Russia and Azerbaijan will help diversify energy supplies and ensure energy security, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday.

Russian energy giant Gazprom agreed with Azerbaijan in March to launch talks on a long-term agreement for Azerbaijani gas supplies from January 2010. Azerbaijani President Ilkham Aliyev made the proposal to Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller back last June.

"This could open up a new page in energy cooperation. And if such an agreement is drafted - and the chances are high, I'll stress once again... this would be a significant event in relations between our countries," Medvedev said at a meeting with Aliyev.

"This would make it possible to speak about energy diversification and offer a solution to the problem of energy security, which is a priority today," the Russian president added.

Azerbaijan has proven natural gas reserves of some 1.5 trillion cubic meters. The South Caucasus country annually consumes 14 billion cubic meters of gas.

Gazprom and the state oil company of Azerbaijan will soon hold a technical inspection of the Baku-Novo-Filya gas pipeline sector ahead of its modernization. Azerbaijan will pump its gas to Russia via the leg that runs some 200 km along the Caspian Sea coast.

According to the Azerbaijani president, Baku sees no obstacles to the gas deal.

"For Azerbaijan, cooperation in this sphere is also an element of the diversification of gas supplies, with Azerbaijani gas currently transited only westwards. Certainly, diversifying supplies means entering new markets," Aliyev said.

He expressed the hope that the negotiations underway between the two countries' companies would be a success.

Aliyev also said his country expected the amount of Azerbaijani oil pumped through the Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline would increase in the future.

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