Uzbekistan Wants to Raise Russia Gas Price

Uzbekistan wants to charge Russia more for its gas supplies from next year and will negotiate a new deal in December, an Uzbek energy official said on Thursday.

Russian gas monopoly Gazprom this week agreed to pay more for the gas it buys from another Central Asian gas producer, Turkmenistan, after it asked for a rise.

Uzbekistan followed suit on Thursday, with a source in the state energy company UzbekNefteGaz saying Uzbekistan also wanted to be paid more than the current $100 per 1,000 cubic meters.

"World prices are rising, the dollar is weakening. It's only logical that (Uzbek) gas prices should rise," the source told Reuters.

"The question is by how much. But that is something to be discussed behind closed doors."

Gazprom said it will pay $130 per tcm of the Turkmen gas in the first half of 2008 and $150 in the second half, up from $100 this year.

Russia, the world's largest natural gas producer and a major gas supplier to Europe, still depends on gas imports from Central Asian states where it buys gas at below-market prices.

It sells gas to Ukraine via trader RosUkrEnergo, mixing its own gas with that bought from Central Asian producers Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Gazprom, which charges its European customers an average of $260 per 1,000 cubic meters, wants to bring gas prices for Ukraine to "market levels" by 2011 from $130 per tcm now, but has promised to raise the price smoothly.

Uzbekistan produced 62 bcm of gas last year and exported 12.6 bcm, including 9 bcm to Gazprom.