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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Kuchma Eyes EU

KIEV (AP) -- Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma said Friday the former Soviet state wanted to join the European Union by 2011, the first time the leader has set a firm target for full membership.

Immediately after independence in 1991, Ukraine enthusiastically turned to the West, joining NATO's Partnership for Peace program and made overtures to the European Union.

That initial enthusiasm cooled however in the late 1990s as the transition to a market economy proved more difficult than expected and Kiev was pulled into line by its former colonial master in Moscow after disputes about gas debts.

Kuchma is now driving for full integration with Western Europe

"We have set a task to join the European Union by 2011 and all our efforts should be focused on it," Kuchma told a government meeting.

Ukraine Piracy Bill

KIEV (AP) -- Under pressure from the United States to crack down on compact disc piracy, Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma signed legislation aimed at regulating CD production and preventing copyright violations, the presidential press service said Friday.

The bill will take effect 60 days after publication. Officials hope the bill will help satisfy U.S. demands and lead to an easing of trade sanctions against the former Soviet republic.

The United States has accused Ukraine of failing to stop the illegal production of tens of millions of CDs, which the U.S. record industry estimates costs it some $200 million annually. The United States imposed sanctions Jan. 23.

LUKoil in Colombia

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Colombia's state oil company Ecopetrol is in preliminary talks with LUKoil for exploration contracts in central Colombia, an Ecopetrol official said Friday.

"One of the purposes of the contract is to target a potential 400-million-barrel structure," said the official who asked not to be named. Ecopetrol expects to reach an agreement with LUKoil within a month, he added.

Yukos Snubs Greece Bid

ATHENS, Greece (Reuters) -- No. 2 oil major Yukos is no longer interested in bidding for a stake in Greece's Hellenic Petroleum, a Greek weekly newspaper reported Friday.

Blue Stream on Track

ANKARA, Turkey (Reuters) -- Turkey's state pipeline concern Botas said Friday that work to lay the pipes for the first of two lines to bring gas from Russia to Turkey through the Black Sea had been completed.

"The 390-kilometer undersea pipeline from the Turkish coast has finished," Botas general manager Gokhan Bildaci said. "Now the second 24-inch [61-centimeter] pipeline will be laid from the Russian coast," he said. "Pipeline laying [for the second line] is expected to finish in mid May," he added.

The pipeline, built under the Blue Stream project to carry an eventual 16 billion cubic meters of gas to Turkey annually, will run for 1,200 kilometers from Izobilnoye near Krasnodar in southern Russia to Turkey's capital of Ankara.

LPG Exports Dive

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia boosted the output of liquefied petroleum gas in 2001 but slashed exports by almost half because of growing domestic consumption, Energy Ministry data showed Friday.

Russian refineries produced 6.85 million tons of LPG in 2001, or 4 percent more than in 2000, but exported only 930,000 tons. The ministry said it expected LPG production to rise this year to 6.98 million tons, of which only 900,000 tons would go abroad.

Russian petrochemical plants consumed a record 3.72 million tons of LPG last year, while 2.20 million tons were used in other industries.