Under the deal, which could enter into force next year, Uzbekistan would each year deliver 3.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Gazprom for onward shipment to southern Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan in return would ship an equivalent volume of gas from its northern Karachaganak field to Gazprom.
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Russia's rising appetite for Central Asian gas is a direct result of the shifting fortunes of Gazprom, the state-run Russian company that controls lucrative exports. The company's total gas production has flatlined at around 550 billion cubic meters (bcm) a year. With major fields yielding less as they age, Gazprom has chosen to maintain its all-important gas balance by purchasing gas on the side -- from independent producers in Russia and from Russia's Central Asian neighbors -- instead of investing in the lengthy and costly development of untapped Arctic fields...(more)