Energy security to dominate G8 summit in 2006

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MOSCOW, July 15 (RIA Novosti) - Energy security, including stability of energy supplies, will be the key issue at the next G8 summit, Russian Deputy Energy and Industry Minister Ivan Materov told a Bavarian minister today.

The next G8 summit will be held in St. Petersburg in 2006 and will be presided over by Russia.

Otto Wiesheu, the Bavarian Minister for Economic Affairs, Infrastructure, Transport and Technology Minister, said Bavaria was the largest German consumer of Russian natural gas, and that almost all Bavarian gas was supplied by Russia.

"As the largest gas producer in the world, Russia is also interested in ensuring stability of exports," Materov said, before adding that diversifying export markets was one of Russia's most important strategic objectives.

Materov said that Russia intended to increase natural gas exports to Europe. "Germany is our main partner in the North European Gas Pipeline project. Construction will start in the German city of Graifswald," he said.

The ministers also discussed opportunities for cooperation between the German company Siemens AG, a major communications provider, and the Petersburg-based Siloviye Machiny (Power Machines), Russia's leading producer and supplier of equipment for energy plants, the supply of energy products, and transport infrastructure.

The North European Gas Pipeline will run across the floor of the Baltic sea

from Vyborg, a Russian seaport in the Vyborg Bay, to Graifswald on the German coast. The pipeline will link the gas transportation networks of Russia and the Baltic states directly to the pan-European gas network.

The pipeline will not run through any transit states, which will reduce sovereign risks and transportation costs, and increase the reliability of gas exports.

The project participants are planning to attract loans. The world's leading banks have expressed an interest in the project.

It is expected that Gazprom, the Russian gas giant, will take an investment decision on the project in September 2005.

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