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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yusufov to Woo U.S. at G-8 Meeting

Russian energy leaders are calling for closer cooperation with the United States ahead of the first-ever meeting of energy ministers of the G-8, which opens in Detroit on Wednesday.

In a meeting last week with visiting U.S. Undersecretary of Energy Robert Card, Energy Minister Igor Yusufov and Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller urged the United States to consider Russia a ready, stable and reliable supplier of oil and natural gas to the West.

Yusufov will raise the issue of Russia's status vis-a-vis its trade partners during the May 1-3 meeting of energy ministers from the seven leading industrialized countries plus Russia, Reuters reported. He also plans talks with U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.

Yusufov intends to promote the export of Russian oil to the United States, the Energy Ministry said. While Russia sends some refined oil products across the Atlantic, the United States is not a crude buyer because transportation costs make Russian crude more expensive compared to that exported from the Middle East.

However, Card said last week that the United States is seeking to boost oil imports from Russia if it can offer a "reasonable price."

President Vladimir Putin has said Russia is ready to guarantee long-term delivery of energy supplies to Europe -- already heavily dependent on Russian oil and gas -- provided the country was an equal partner.

According to figures released Friday by Gazprom export arm Gazexport, Russian natural gas exports to Western Europe increased by 3.5 percent to 24 billion cubic meters in the first quarter of 2002 compared to the same time period last year.

Russia exports 130 bcm of gas a year to Europe, or one third of European gas imports, and ships abroad 150 million tons of oil, roughly 20 percent of European needs.

"In the West, there is no alternative to Russian 'blue' fuel," Miller said after the meeting with Card. "Also, the most important issue right now for Western energy security isn't the amount of supplies -- it's the guarantee of stability in gas purchases and price stability."

Card and Miller agreed that long-term contracts are key in ensuring stable supplies for Europe and continued investment in Russia's gas sector, the company said in a press release.

Despite Gazprom's vocal opposition, these long-term contracts are set to be dismantled by 2006, when liberalization of Europe's gas market begins to accelerate.

The world oil spot markets have been spooked by continuing unrest in the Middle East, as well as Saudi Arabia's reluctance to fill the supply gap left by Iraq, which suspended crude shipments April 8 to protest Israel's incursion into Palestinian areas.

U.S. oil prices surged past $27 per barrel Friday. Gas prices generally lag oil prices by about six months.