EU and US push for Kazakh gas pipeline
Top officials from the European Union and the US are visiting Kazakhstan in an attempt to revive the idea of a gas
pipeline bypassing Russia.
Kazakhstan's energy minister told the EU's energy commissioner his country favoured the proposal for a pipeline across the Caspian Sea. A recent gas row between Russia and Ukraine raised EU fears it was becoming overly dependent on Russia for supply.
US Vice-President Dick Cheney is also in Kazakhstan for talks on the issue. Mr Cheney lashed out at Russia in a
speech given in Lithuania, accusing it of using its vast energy resources to blackmail its neighbours.
Russia, which denies using energy as a political weapon, described his remarks as "completely incomprehensible". Dick Cheney is due to meet Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev in the capital, Astana.
Kazakhstan will be commissioning a feasibility study for a trans-Caspian gas pipeline, Kazakh Energy Minister
Baktykozha Izmukhambetov told visiting EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs.
"A... pipeline from Kazakhstan to Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and further to Europe is seen as one of the feasible routes," he said. Kazakhstan, he added, should be pumping up to 45 bn cm of natural gas a year by 2015.
Mr Piebalgs said Brussels viewed Kazakhstan, currently a big oil exporter, as an important future gas supplier and
"Strengthening discussions with Kazakhstan in the energy sector is of great importance for improving the security of energy supplies to the EU," he said. He was due to visit Kazakhstan's Caspian city of Atyrau and the giant offshore Kashagan oilfield.