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RUSSIA / GERMANY

Gazprom, BASF Start Tomsk Gas Field

Gazprom and its German partner BASF opened a field in western Siberia to fill a new export pipeline as output at older Russian projects declines.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Gazprom chairman Dmitry Medvedev officially started commercial production of the Yuzhno-Russkoye field at a televised ceremony in Moscow on Tuesday.

"Developing the Yuzhno-Russkoye field is a glowing example of Russian-German partnership. It's a shared contribution to ensuring Europe's strong energy security," Medvedev said at the ceremony, Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported on its web site Tuesday. He also said developing the field represented a major investment in the development and prosperity of the region.

"We still have before us many major, important plans and new horizons for development. Russia is open for large, serious business projects, bold initiatives and mutually profitable cooperation," Medvedev said, the newspaper reported.

Gazprom is using Yuzhno-Russkoye, which holds enough gas to supply Germany for almost a decade, to bolster production while expanding abroad. BASF got a 25 percent stake in the project after giving up a greater share in distribution venture Wingas and swapping assets in Libya. German utility E.On is also seeking a stake in the field and said Monday that it had agreed with Gazprom on a list of assets to be swapped.

BASF and E.On are partners in Gazprom's Nord Stream pipeline.

(The Moscow Times 19.xii.07)