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Official: Baku Could Cut Back On Russian Gas

(RFE/RL) 8 December 2005 -- A top energy official in Azerbaijan says his country may cut back on Russian gas supplies if prices go up.

Natik Aliyev, the president of Azerbaijan's state-run oil company GNKAR, said today a current agreement allows Baku to pay $60 per 1,000 cubic meters this year and $61 in 2006.

Russia's state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom has been threatening to raise gas rates for many of the former Soviet republics. Russia sells gas to Western Europe for as much as $200 per 1,000 cubic meters.

Officials from Gazprom and GNKAR are due to meet next week. Aliyev said the talks are likely to be "arduous," and said Baku may give up some of its Russian gas supplies, buying only the minimum required.