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Page last updated at 13:29 GMT, Friday, 10 April 2009 14:29 UK

Russia blamed for pipeline blast

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Turkmenistan has accused Russia of causing an explosion on a gas pipeline by giving less than a day's notice before abruptly cutting its imports.

It said the sharp change in pressure caused a pipeline to rupture, and was a gross violation of gas purchase rules.

The Russian state energy company, Gazprom, denied the allegations saying there was no basis for the accusation.

Moscow buys nearly all Turkmenistan's gas, and re-exports much of it to Ukraine and other European countries.

The Russian foreign ministry said it hoped the company and Turkmenistan would resolve the issue.

Diversification

Gas supplies from the Central Asia country of Turkmenistan to Russia were halted in the early hours of Thursday following the pipeline blast. No casualties were reported.

The Turkmen side said it was working to rapidly repair the damage along the Davletbat-Daryalik pipeline, close to the Turkmen-Uzbek border.

In a separate statement, Turkmenistan said the explosion had not been caused by outdated infrastructure.

Gazprom said the incident would not affect supplies to its customers, and that alternative supply routes to Russia were being explored.

Turkmenistan's massive gas reserves are effectively controlled by Moscow, since it relies on Russian energy giant Gazprom's Soviet-era pipelines for distribution.

But the BBC's Central Asia correspondent, Rayhan Demytrie, says Turkmenistan is looking for ways to diversify its energy sector.

A major pipeline for the delivery of Turkmen gas to China is currently under construction.

Turkmen gas could also become the key to the success of the Nabucco pipeline, an EU-backed project designed to provide an alternative to Russian gas supplies to Europe.



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