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Russia Warns Azerbaijan of Cuts Electricity, Gas Supplies in 2007


Russia is warning Azerbaijan of possible cuts in the amount of both electricity and natural gas it will provide that country next year.

Marlen Askerov, the vice president of Azerbaijani's state power company Azerenergy, said Thursday that Moscow has proposed sending the Azerbaijanis one-fifth the amount of electricity it supplied them a year ago. Starting next year, Russia says it will supply only 60 megawatts per day - down from 300 megawatts per day last year.

Askerov said Moscow is also proposing to raise the price of electricity by 13 percent.

Wednesday, Russia's state-run gas monopoly Gazprom announced plans to cut natural gas supplies to Azerbaijan beginning next year. Gazprom said it will supply Russia's oil-and-gas rich neighbor with 1.5 billion cubic meters of gas in 2007.

Both moves follow Azerbaijani pledges to supply more gas to the country's neighbors, such as Georgia, from its own natural gas fields in the Caspian Sea. Gazprom says Azerbaijan can still meet its domestic needs despite the cut in natural gas supplies.

Gazprom has also tightened supplies or announced price hikes for other countries such as Belarus and Armenia. Analysts say the moves are designed to allow it to sell more energy on the lucrative western European markets.

Some information for this report was provided by AP Bloomberg and Reuters.

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