Kazakhstan set to boost gas output more than 50% by 2010
ASTANA. May 14. KAZINFORM - Kazakhstan plans to boost gas output more than 50% by 2010, the republic's energy minister said Monday in the wake of a crucial natural gas pipeline deal clinched by Russia and Central Asian states. Russia's President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, which are the region's major gas producers, agreed May 12 to build a pipeline along the Caspian Sea coast to pump billions of cubic meters of natural gas from Turkmenistan to Kazakhstan into Russia's network of pipelines to Europe. "In the medium-term perspective, natural gas output is expected to rise more than 50% by 2010, to about 45 billion cubic meters. Moreover, exports will also expand 50%, to 12 billion cubic meters a year," minister Baktykozha Izmukhambetov told a government meeting. The gas pipeline deal is seen as a major blow to U.S. and European Union efforts to build an alternative pipeline under the Caspian Sea, avoiding Russia, to supply energy to Europe through Azerbaijan and Turkey, Kazinform cites RIA Novosti. The minister said Kazakhstan's proven and estimated natural gas reserves, including deposits discovered on the Caspian Sea shelf, totaled about 3.3 trillion cubic meters. Izmukhambetov also said oil and gas condensate output in the energy-rich Kazakhstan grew 10%, year-on-year, in the first four months of 2007, to 22.3 million metric tons.