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Russia's Gazprom to double Azerbaijan gas purchases


Gazprom said it had signed a deal to double its gas imports from Azerbaijan, which has been courted by the European Union as a way to reduce its dependence on Russian imports.

"According to the document, in 2012 the volume of gas purchases from Azerbaijan will grow from 1.5 to 3.0 billion cubic metres, and from 2013 will exceed 3.0 billion cubic metres," the state-controlled Russian gas company said in a statement.

The deal, an amendment to an existing contract, was signed by Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller and the head of Azerbaijan's state-owned energy company Socar Rovnag Abdullayev.

"We are doubling our purchases of Azeri gas for the second consecutive year," Miller was quoted as saying in the statement.

Securing supplies from gas rich Azerbaijan is important for Russia as it races to begin building this year the South Stream pipeline to eventually provide up to 63 billion cubic metres of gas per year to southeastern Europe.

Azerbaijan's huge Caspian Sea gas reserves are also seen as crucial to the success of EU plans which envisage the construction of several pipelines, including the flagship project called Nabucco, to bring gas from the region and reduce dependence on Russian supplies.