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Berdimuhamedov touts natural gas potential

KENDERLY, Kazakhstan, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- Turkmenistan has a vibrant future ahead for its role in the regional gas sector as its role expands in several pipeline projects, officials say.

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov touted the role his country played in the Caspian energy sector during an oil and gas summit for littoral states.

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Kazakhstan is hosting leaders from Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Russia for informal talks meant to hammer out distribution of oil and gas resources in the Caspian Sea, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.

Caspian littoral states are at odds over territorial boundaries in the energy-rich region.

Berdimuhamedov noted his country would begin operating a gas pipeline to China by the end of 2009 with the capacity to pump some 1.6 trillion cubic feet of gas per year. Meanwhile, he emphasized the importance of the proposed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India while a rival project from Iran moves forward in the region.

On Nabucco, the natural gas project for Europe, Berdimuhamedov said his country was ready to make pledges in support of the $10.3 billion pipeline.

He did not mention gas supplies to Russia, however. Turkmenistan had supplied most of its gas to Russia, though that relationship soured in April following a pipeline explosion that Ashgabat blamed on Russian energy giant Gazprom.

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Iran was not invited to the summit.

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