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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kazakhstan Lobbies $1.5Bln Gas Pipeline Project

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Kazakhstan plans to double the capacity of the main gas pipeline from Central Asia to Russia, and wants the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to join the project, an official said Tuesday.

Azat Bekturov, deputy department chief at state gas transportation firm KazTransGas, told reporters the $1.5 billion project aims to boost the annual capacity of the Central Asia-Center pipeline to 90 billion cubic meters from 45 bcm to 50 bcm.

Bekturov said the Kazakh government planned to borrow funds to pay for the 10-year project.

"We have a goal to work together with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development," he said at the sidelines of an annual international oil and gas conference.

"We hope for their weighty contribution to this project." He said the feasibility study would be ready by May next year.

The Central Asia-Center pipeline now transports Turkmen natural gas which is sold mainly in Ukraine.

Gazprom, which is the largest supplier of natural gas to Europe but also buys cheap Central Asian gas, clinched a vital gas deal with Turkmenistan earlier this year.

Under the 25-year agreement, Gazprom will import up to 10 bcm a year of Turkmen natural gas from 2005 and 70-80 bcm from 2009. This will allow the gas giant to put off the costly development of Russian gas fields in the Arctic.

Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov wants to build jointly with Russia a new pipeline which will cross Kazakhstan on its way to Russia.

The project may come onstream already in 2007, but Kazakhstan complains that both Gazprom and Turkmenistan are talking bilaterally without asking for its opinion.

"We all must have heard media reports that Gazprom, separately from KazTransGas, is negotiating with the Turkmen side on building some kind of a new pipeline," Bekturov said.

"But we are confident that it won't work without us anyway."

Kazakhstan, well known for its huge oil reserves, is also hoping to become a natural gas exporter.

Bekturov said that in 2004 Kazakhstan planned to export 5 bcm of its own natural gas. The government says that by 2015 the country will be produce 60 bcm to70 bcm of gas a year and exporting 35 bcm.