BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan, June 19 (UPI) -- In an attempt to revive its aging natural gas industry, Kyrgyzstan is turning to Russia's state-owned natural gas giant Gazprom.
Kyrgyzstan's Belyi Parus newspaper reported Friday that according to the Kyrgyz government's latest official reports, Gazprom has agreed to purchase 75 percent of shares plus one share of the state gas enterprise Kyrgyzgaz.
In addition, Gazprom has agreed to close out all the old debts of Kyrgyz gas transport enterprises, estimated at $13 million.
The deal culminates discussions begun between Gazprom and Kyrgyzgaz in 2003, when an agreement was initialed between the two companies establishing cooperation in the oil and gas sector for 25 years.
For years the Kyrgyz government has attempted to procure foreign investment in its energy sector but has been largely unsuccessful. Among potential investors Russia has shown the greatest interest. In February Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev during a visit to Moscow managed to procure a $2 billion loan, which included money to help Kyrgyzstan build the 1,900-MW Karambata 1 hydroelectric project.