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Kazakhstan, EU To Sign Energy Deals In December

Energy Commissioner Piebalgs (right) with Energy Council President Martin Bertenstein in January (epa) November 30, 2006 -- EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs announced today that the bloc will sign two energy deals with Kazakhstan when President Nursultan Nazarbaev visits Brussels sometime in early December.

Addressing reporters in Astana, Piebalgs said the first of those two documents explores possible energy supplies to the EU from Kazakhstan and investments in the Kazakh energy sector.

The other document, which the European Commission agreed to back on October 24, envisages cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Kazakhstan is the world's third-largest uranium producer, after Australia and Canada, but accounts for just 3 percent of uranium deliveries to EU nuclear facilities.

Piebalgs said that the EU regards energy cooperation with Kazakhstan as a way to diversify its supplies.

The EU relies heavily on Russia for its natural gas, and the bloc is seeking to reduce the risks of disruption.

Russia temporarily restricted the flow of natural gas to Ukraine in January, with the effects felt by countries in Central Europe within a day or so. Supplies were restored after a deal was reached several days later.

(Reuters, Interfax-Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan Today)

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