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ASHGABAT (TCA) — Alexey Miller, Board Chairman of Russian natural-gas giant Gazprom, confirmed the interest of the Russian company in cooperation with Turkmenistan and implementation of joint projects during the meeting with Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov in Ashgabat on November 28, State News Agency of Turkmenistan reported.

Having highlighted that Turkmenistan is always open for efficient business contacts with foreign partners, especially with leading world companies, the Turkmen President noted traditional friendly character of Turkmen–Russian cooperation in the fuel and energy sphere.

Berdymuhamedov and Miller exchanged the visions on priority directions of partnership taking into account the strategy in the fuel and energy sector aimed at comprehensive modernization and diversification of infrastructure, increase in production and processing, and development of the petrochemical industry.

In this context, the resumption of procurement of Turkmen natural gas by Gazprom was discussed. The existing Intergovernmental Agreement between Turkmenistan and the Russian Federation on cooperation in the gas sphere until 2028 is the main document regulating bilateral relations in this sector.

During his visit to Ashgabat on October 9, Miller said that Gazprom was going to resume imports of natural gas from Turkmenistan. He said that purchases which had been suspended three years ago due to price disputes may resume starting from January 1, 2019.

"We are talking about the resumption of purchases of Turkmen gas by Gazprom in the very near future — from January 1, 2019," Miller then said, adding that details of the new deal still must be finalized.

Russia was once the leading importer of Turkmen gas until it was displaced by China around the beginning of the decade, RFE/RL reported.

Relatively cheap imports of gas from Turkmenistan and other Central Asian countries enabled Russia to boost its exports to Europe.

In 2015, Gazprom announced its intention to cut imports of Turkmen gas to 4 billion cubic meters per year, down from the 10 billion level that it had been importing since 2010.

The move was followed by a complete cessation of purchases announced at the beginning of 2016, putting significant pressure on Turkmenistan's economy, which is highly dependent on hydrocarbons as a source of hard currency.

Gas deliveries to China from Turkmenistan along the Central Asia-China pipeline are currently between 30 and 40 billion cubic meters a year.

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