MOSCOW, June 30 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is ready to purchase Azerbaijani natural gas at a record price of $350 per 1,000 cu m to try and make a rival Western-backed gas pipeline project unfeasible, a business paper reported on Tuesday.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev paid a visit to Azerbaijan on Monday, during which Gazprom signed an agreement with the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) to buy 500 million cubic meters of gas from Azerbaijan annually from January 1, 2010, with supplies expected to increase in the future.
According to Kommersant, it was reported later on Monday that an inter-governmental agreement on the construction of the rival Nabucco gas pipeline bypassing Russia could be delayed.
The agreed gas price with Azerbaijan is higher than the $300 per 1,000 cu m that Russia offered to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan earlier in the year.
The $10 billion Nabucco pipeline, backed by the European Union and the U.S., is intended to link energy-rich Central Asia to Europe through Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria, bypassing Russia and Ukraine. Construction has been tentatively scheduled to begin in 2010.
Russia's transit disputes with its former Soviet neighbors have raised concerns that Europe is too dependent on Russia for its energy.