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Turkmen president, Russian PM expected to talk gas price Friday

The Turkmen president and the Russian prime minister are expected to discuss the price for Turkmen natural gas in 2008 at their meeting on Friday in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan.

Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov and Viktor Zubkov are holding bilateral talks following a session of the council of the CIS heads of states on Thursday. Berdymukhammedov did not announce the Central Asian state's new gas pricing policy during the meeting with premiers from ex-Soviet states.

The president said on Thursday Turkmenistan, along with Russia and Kazakhstan, planned to modernize the 1974 Central Asia-Center gas pipeline, which runs from Turkmenistan via Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to Russia, raising its capacity by 20 billion cubic meters from the current 50 billion.

He also reiterated that the three countries had signed a deal to build a new gas pipeline across their respective territories.

Turkmenistan now exports gas via a Russian-controlled pipeline network, but has been considering diversifying export routes.

Russia's gas monopoly Gazprom currently buys 45 billion cubic meters of Turkmen gas a year for $100 per 1,000 cubic meters and sells a mixture of Russian and Turkmen gas to Ukraine at $130. Russian-Ukrainian gas talks have stalled for a number of reasons, including the failure of Turkmenistan, the second largest gas producer after Russia in the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States, to set a future gas price.

Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller is also expected in Ashgabat on Friday.

RIA Novosti

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