BRUSSELS, May 4, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs arrives in Kazakhstan today to discuss energy cooperation with the country's leaders.
Piebalgs's spokesman, Ferran Tarradellas Espuny, told reporters in Brussels the visit reflects increased EU interest in tapping into Kazakhstan's vast energy reserves.
"The event marks the very first visit to Kazakhstan of an [EU] energy commissioner, and has as [its] objective the development and enhancement of energy cooperation between Kazakhstan and [the] EU," Tarradellas Espuny said.
In particular, Tarradellas Espuny said, Piebalgs will study possibilities for new export routes from the Caspian region to the EU, which would bypass Russia.
He said the EU is particularly interested in Kazakhstan because the country has the largest recoverable oil and gas resources in the Caspian region.
Piebalgs is accompanied by senior representatives of the European oil and gas industry, and will meet with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev and various ministers.