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Russian President Dmitri Medvedev only visited Baku for a day, but walked away with a gas deal likely to bring Moscow benefits for years to come.
Under a June 29 agreement with Azerbaijan, Russia’s gas monopolist Gazprom has become the first -- and only -- company listed as a potential purchaser of natural gas from Stage 2 of Azerbaijan’s sprawling Shah Deniz field. In a boon for Baku, the agreement stipulates that any other potential purchaser must outbid Gazprom for Stage-2 gas, according to Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller.
The document does not specify volumes of gas to be purchased or prices to be paid. Gazprom had earlier offered to purchase all gas produced during Stage 2 of Shah Deniz -- estimated at some 14 billion cubic meters of gas per year by 2016.
At first glance, the deal would appear to give Russia a critical strategic advantage in the Caspian Sea energy chess game. The United States and European Union have long promoted Shah Deniz’s Stage 2 as an alternative gas supply source for Gazprom-dependent customers in Europe.
But energy expert Ilham Shaban cautions against taking the agreement as a sign that Baku has thrown over the West for the deep-pocketed Gazprom. "Western media and analysts will, of course, say that Azerbaijan has turned towards Moscow and given up its commitments [to the US and EU-backed pipeline project Nabucco], but the truth is that nobody but Gazprom has made concrete proposals to Azerbaijan concerning Stage 2 so far," Shaban said. ....

Energy Resources - Azerbaijan key to European energy needs - 02.07.2009,
WASHINGTON, July 2 (UPI) -- Azerbaijan is an important partner to the United States in terms of energy security and diversification, said the U.S. special envoy for Eurasian energy.
The envoy, Richard Morningstar, spoke to the U.S.-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce on the importance of the so-called Southern Corridor of oil and gas transit networks. ...

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