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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Pipeline Extension

KIEV (AP) -- Participants in a fledgling international gas consortium to upgrade Ukraine's ailing Soviet-era pipeline network agreed Tuesday on a new gas pipeline extension to handle potentially bigger supplies from Kazakhstan.

The deputy head of Gazprom, Alexander Ryazanov, and Yury Boyko, head of the state natural gas monopoly Naftohaz, agreed to prepare plans by March 1 for construction of an extension from the eastern city of Novopskov to Uzhhorod near the Hungarian border, Naftohaz said in a statement. The addition would increase pipeline capacity to 140 billion cubic meters.

Ukraine, Russia and Germany agreed last June to form the consortium to upgrade Ukraine's ailing pipeline system and ensure steady natural gas supplies to Europe.

German representatives will join the board of directors after the sides will reach "complete understanding" in how the consortium will work, Boyko said earlier this month.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Haiduk was fired this month after he publicly cast doubt on the multibillion-dollar deal, saying none of the proposals for running the consortium -- allowing it to run the pipeline on concessionary terms, transferring the pipeline to a management group or granting the consortium operational responsibility -- was feasible.

Pipeline Ruptured

ALMATY, Kazakhstan (Prime-Tass) -- A section of Gazprom's Central Asia-Center gas pipeline in western Kazakhstan was shut down after it ruptured Wednesday, Kazakh emergency officials said.

The accident happened near the Russian border, 12 kilometers from the town of Zangal.

No injuries were reported, but the gas that leaked from the broken pipe started to burn, prompting the shutdown.

The blaze was later extinguished and gas supplies were expected to resume later in the day, emergency officials said.

The gas link, which handles some 45 billion cubic meters a year, runs from Turkmenistan and across Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to central Russia and Ukraine.

Gazprom did not comment on the accident.

Oil Products Flat

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russian oil product pipeline monopoly Transnefteprodukt said Wednesday that its exports would remain flat in 2004 compared to this year at 17.1 million tons.

This year, the firm increased exports by around 4 percent from 16.4 million tons in 2002.

The state-controlled firm, which ships mainly gas oil to the Baltic Sea Latvian port of Ventspils and to Russian Black Sea ports, controls almost all major oil product pipelines in Russia.

It ships abroad less than 25 percent of Russia's total oil product exports. Remaining volumes reach major export ports by rail or river.

Transnefteprodukt has said its oil product exports may double within the next 10 years with the construction of new gas oil pipelines to the ports of Primorsk on the Baltic and Novorossiisk on the Black Sea.

Isrealis Opt for Soyuz

TOULOUSE, France (Bloomberg) -- Arianespace will launch Israeli telecommunications satellite AMOS 2 for Israel Aircraft Industries and operator Spacecom next week using a Starsem rocket instead of its Ariane 5 rocket.

Starsem is a European-Russian venture that markets the Soyuz for use in the international marketplace and conducting launch operations at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Arianespace, a European rocket-launch company, is using a Soyuz Fregat, which will launch from Baikonur because the Ariane 5 rocket is not available.

The change in rocket choice "reflects the effective policy set up by Arianespace and Starsem to meet customer needs, based on a family of launchers," Arianespace said in a statement on its web site.

It did not specify why the Ariane 5 rocket was not available.

The liftoff is scheduled for Sunday.

Yaroslavl to Get Metro

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- German retail giant Metro Cash & Carry will invest 13 million euros opening its eighth wholesale trade center in Russia and the first in Yaroslavl, the company said Wednesday.

The start of construction is scheduled for January while the store is expected to be opened at the end of June.

The trading center will sell around 20,000 different items.

Metro has a total of 387 stores in 23 countries and annual revenues of 51.5 billion euros. Currently, the holding has five stores in Moscow and two in St. Petersburg. It plans to open nine more stores in Russia in 2004.

In 2000-03 the holding invested about 150 million euros ($187 million) in Russia and it plans to invest about 1 billion euros more in the next five years.