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Gazprom gets Kyrgyz gas field licenses

Kyrgyzstan awarded Gazprom exploration licenses on Wednesday for two oil and natural gas fields and invited the Russian gas monopoly to buy stakes in its state-owned companies.

Gazprom said it would invest up to $300 million to develop the Central Asian nation’s fields within the next four years. “We were given exploration licenses today,” Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller told reporters after meeting Kyrgyz Prime Minister Igor Chudinov in the capital Bishkek. “During the second stage Gazprom will invest about $300 million into Kyrgyzstan.” Chudinov said the government had also invited Gazprom to take part in the planned privatization of two state-owned oil and gas companies -- Kyrgyzgaz and Kyrgyzneftegaz.

Kyrgyzstan, an impoverished ex-Soviet nation, depends on gas supplies from neighboring Uzbekistan. Miller said the country might be able to meet domestic demand with its own output in several years with Gazprom’s help. Kyrgyzstan, more known for its metals reserves, remains a small player on the Central Asian energy market dominated by oil-rich Kazakhstan and major gas exporter Turkmenistan. It produces about 70,000 tons of oil and 30 to 40 million cubic meters of gas a year, but the government says there are sizeable unexplored hydrocarbon reserves. (Reuters)