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Pipeline accident halts gas exports

A PIPELINE blast in Turkmenistan yesterday halted Turkmen gas exports to Russia, but officials said the accident would not have an impact on its customers in Europe.

Turkmenistan is the biggest gas producer in Central Asia. Russia's gas-export monopoly, OAO Gazprom, buys up to 50 billion cubic meters of its gas each year to meet its export obligations and demand at home.

"The accident won't have an impact on gas supplies to Gazprom's customers," Gazprom said in a statement, which did not specify the cause of the explosion but said it had caused a fire.

It said the blast had damaged the pipeline yesterday morning and the Turkmen side was studying options to send gas via previously unused links of trunk pipelines between Russia and Turkmenistan.

An industry source in Kazakhstan said repairs could take up to three days.

Gazprom normally cannot meet both its export obligations and peak demand at home without Turkmen gas but it will probably be able to cope without it for some time because of a slump in demand.

The explosion was the second pipeline accident this month. A pipeline explosion in Moldova, attributed to aging infrastructure, reduced deliveries of Russian gas to Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey.

Turkmen gas goes through a pipeline via Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, both of which also supply smaller amounts, before reaching Russia.


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