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Russia, Kazakhstan Sign Energy Deal

Presidents Putin (left) and Nazarbaev in Uralsk on October 3 (ITAR-TASS) October 3, 2006 -- Russia and Kazakhstan today agreed to set up a gas-condensate-processing joint venture in the southern Siberian region of Orenburg.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev welcomed the deal as a milestone in Kazakh foreign investment.

"For the first time Kazakhstan is investing a lot of money in the Russian economy and Russia is allowing Kazakhstan to purchase assets at the Orenburg gas refinery," Nazarbaev told reporters after the agreement was signed on the sidelines of Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to the northwestern Kazakh city of Uralsk.

Under the deal, Kazakhstan will send condensate from its Karachaganak gas field to Russia for processing and receive refined gas in return. Russia will retain the remainder of the refined gas.

The joint venture is expected to begin operations in 2007. Russia's Gazprom and Kazakhstan's KazMunaiGaz national oil and gas company will have equal stakes in the venture.

Russia's Interfax news agency today quoted Sergei Ivanov, the head of the Gazprom subsidiary that owns the Orenburg gas refinery, as saying Kazakhstan will invest the equivalent of 9.5 billion rubles ($355 million) in the project.

Nuclear Deal, Too

Also today, Putin said Nazarbaev told him that Kazakhstan will participate in the construction of an internationally monitored center to enrich uranium on Russian territory.

The center will be tentatively located in eastern Siberia and could become operational as early as 2007.

Putin has described the future center as a major contribution to the international efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation. He has also said that it will be open to any country willing to develop peaceful nuclear atomic energy.

(ITAR-TASS, Interfax, Kazinform, Kazakhstan Today)

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