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Gazprom secures major Azeri gas deal

MOSCOW, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Russian energy giant Gazprom announced an agreement to double its natural gas purchases from Azerbaijan in 2010 and again in 2011.

Gazprom announced it plans to purchase 35 billion cubic feet of natural gas from Azerbaijan in 2010 and 70 billion cubic feet in 2011.

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The agreement came during a Moscow meeting between Gazprom chief Alexei Miller and Rovnag Abdullayev, the president of the State Oil Co. of Azerbaijan Republic.

"The meeting addressed the issues relevant to the launch of Azerbaijani natural gas supplies to Russia for the first time in the history of cooperation between the countries," the Russian gas giant said.

Miller added there was no upper limit on the amount of Azeri gas purchases, which he said showed Gazprom was ready to buy as much gas from Azerbaijan as it was able to supply.

Azerbaijan has emerged as a regional energy giant. Europe eyes Azeri gas for its lauded Nabucco pipeline, which is intended to break the Russian grip on the regional energy sector.

Nabucco enjoys widespread political support but lacks firm commitments from supplier nations.

Gazprom signed a purchase and sale contract for more than 1.7 billion cubic feet of gas from SOCAR in October.

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Azerbaijan holds as much as 45.9 trillion feet of recoverable gas reserves.

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