Uzbeks Call For Higher Gas Price

Uzbekistan wants to charge Russia more for its gas supplies from next year and will negotiate a new deal in December, an Uzbek energy official said Thursday.

Gazprom this week agreed to pay more for the gas it buys from Turkmenistan, after it asked for a higher price.

Uzbekistan followed suit Thursday, with a source in the state energy company Uzbekneftegaz saying Uzbekistan also wanted to be paid more than the current $100 per 1,000 cubic meters.

"World prices are rising, the dollar is weakening. It's only logical that [Uzbek] gas prices should rise," the source said. "The question is by how much. But that is something to be discussed behind closed doors."

Gazprom said it will pay $130 per 1,000 cubic meters of the Turkmen gas in the first half of 2008 and $150 in the second half, up from $100 this year.

Uzbekistan produced 62 billion cubic meters of gas last year and exported 12.6 bcm, including 9 bcm to Gazprom.

LUKoil CEO Vagit Alekperov opened the company's first production site in Uzbekistan on Thursday, as the firm increases its influence in the region.

Alekperov officially marked the start of the Khauzak gas field, accompanied by Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov and officials from Uzbekneftegaz.

LUKoil has invested $350 million in Uzbekistan and plans to spend another $130 million by the end of next year, Alekperov said.

Reuters, Bloomberg